Real estate investment and development company Union Hanover Securities has secured an injection of capital to enable it to grow the Urban Villa extend stay and Hoax hostel concepts into major brands.
A substantial financial injection from Guernsey-based EquityBridge Asset Management (EBAM) has allowed the company to assemble a team of hospitality hard hitters to grow Urban Hanover’s current £350m hospitality property portfolio to £1b over the next five years.
Capitalising on the recovery of the European property market, the initiative is to be led by Eric Jafari (pictured) – previously chief executive and co-founder of BridgePoint Ventures – as the European managing director. His former colleague Peter Debs has also moved to Union Hanover as managing director with responsibility for the group’s developments in the Americas.
Meanwhile, Andrew Fowler, formerly the director of property acquisition for StayCity, has been appointed as hospitality director, and Merzak Kaddour, previously head of hospitality finance at National Australia Group (Europe), will join the group in April as hotels operations director.
Other new recruits include Charles Cresser, formerly at Jones Lang LaSalle, as the new European development director for Union Hanover; Richard Kiibler, who joins with 15 years development experience in the United States, Panama and Mexico, as development director for Union Hanover Securities in the Americas; Laura Prosser, previously in the global real estate group at Ashurst LLP, as general counsel; Muhammad Mushtaq as group financial controller; and Matthew Grzywinski of New York-based architectural firm Grzywinski and Pons, as architectural and design counsel.
The new team are now set to concentrate on the growth of both Urban Villa and Hoax, which were created by Jafari and Fowler.
With regards Urban Villa – featuring a cutting-edge, Manhattan loft-style design conceived by Grzywinski + Pons in collaboration with Dexter Moren of Camden – planning permission has already been granted for a 217-bedroom property on the Whitechapel Road, East London, and a 182-bedroom property in Aberdeen. Further Urban Villas have been earmarked for Stratford (East London), Portsmouth and Edinburgh.
Urban Villa will target European gateway cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris for development, followed by New York at a later stage.
The first Hoax hostel, which incorporates 282 beds and the Hopskotch Street Kitchen & Bar, opened in Liverpool last summer, while a second one is planned for London.
Jafari said the capital from EquityBridge Asset Management has provided Union Hanover with the resources to develop “a very clear and demonstrable competitive advantage in our space” through property development, operations and creative brand development.
Fowler added: “With EquityBridge’s backing and the new best-in-class team, there is no reason why we should not be able to grow our existing platform from £350m to £1b within five years.”
Warren Malschinger, managing director of EBAM said the new team on board at Union Hanover make “a formidable” combination.
“Our investors have been very impressed with Union Hanover’s access to deal flow, creative and cutting edge innovation and design development. These valuable skills have now been further enhanced with the very experienced delivery team that has been assembled.”