This article is from React News: https://reactnews.com/

Exec jumps ship to join asset manager

Aviva’s head of retail has quit to take on a role to take advantage of the growing stress in the sector, React News can reveal.

Tony Christie has left his senior director role at the pension fund investor to become head of retail and asset management at Catella APAM, which is eating up new mandates to manage under pressure retail assets.

He has been recruited to “specifically use his experience in APAM’s burgeoning debt advisory mandates in UK shopping centres” and will lead a team of 10.

In June APAM took on the asset management of three distressed shopping centres owned by Oaktree Capital Management in Dunfermline, King’s Lynn and Loughborough, replacing London & Associated Properties. Mezzanine lender DRC controls the malls, whose debt sits senior to a Goldman Sachs- issued CMBS.

The rise of online has created the ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ on-demand consumer, with increasingly high expectations. The pressure to shorten delivery times, narrow delivery windows and fulfil the ‘I want it now’ delivery options, is radically changing the logistics landscape.

Last February the company also appointed former Queensberry Real Estate director Daniel Mead as its head of shopping centre management, which it said it was looking to do in order to help “refinance regional town centres, provide long-term plans for shopping centre assets and advise the many stakeholders involved, including local authorities, banks and property owners”.

At Aviva Christie oversaw £3bn of retail assets and had been head of retail since 2015. Before that he was the fund manager for its healthcare fund, which held £550m of care homes. Before that he was at Grosvenor Group for 15 years, including as head of retail for his last two years between 2011 and 2013.

Aviva itself has been at the centre of one of the highest profile, ongoing distressed shopping centre situations in the UK as a lender. Aviva Commercial Finance controls and holds around £150m of debt against four centres in Wigan, Northampton, Warrington and Seaham notionally owned by RDI REIT which Israeli investor MDSR Investments has been in talks to buy.

Simon Cooke and William Powell, co-founders of APAM said: “This is a very important strategic appointment for APAM and Tony is joining APAM at an exciting time in our development as we grow our asset management services particularly in retail, and as we expand our business in to new areas where Tony brings a wealth of experience from the institutional world.”

Christie added: “I am delighted to be taking on a senior leadership role at APAM and I am looking forward to working with a dynamic and entrepreneurial team that has a proven track record and is meeting the challenges and opportunities in the UK real estate market head on.”