Brookfield-backed Sera hires Goldman exec in RE secondaries push

The appointment at advisory firm Sera Global follows that of Kilian Toms who joined in March from Landmark Partners to focus on EMEA.

Sera Global, an advisory firm backed by Brookfield, has hired a professional from Goldman Sachs Asset Management for its push into real estate secondaries advisory.

Michael Yang joined the firm on Wednesday as a partner and will help lead the firm’s liquidity solutions and secondaries practice, according to a statement. He was executive director and vice-president at Goldman where he focused on real estate investments across primaries, secondaries and co-investments.

“We’ve sat in the seats of the investors so we have a more thorough understanding of the value drivers and levers to pull,” Yang told Secondaries Investor. “Unrealistic expectations over pricing and terms are often deal-killers, and we’ll be able to provide more insights to bridge the divide,” between market participants, he added.

Yang’s appointment follows that of Kilian (pronounced ‘ky-lan’) Toms who joined as a partner in March from Landmark Partners. The pair will be responsible for “advising managers across North American and EMEA markets seeking to recapitalise portfolios and create liquidity through fund restructurings, asset spinouts or privately-negotiated secondary investments”, according to the statement.

According to Toms, there are elements of the real estate secondaries market that are under-served – something Sera wants to focus on as a “full-service advisory platform”, particularly for GP-led recapitalisations.

“There is an evolution in the GPs’ mindsets as they start thinking more strategically about their broader platforms and how secondary capital can be utilised for value and wealth creation,” Toms said.

With the addition of Ares Management, which acquired Landmark in March, and BentallGreenOak, which bought Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management from Carlyle Group in February, plus two to three additional “major players” over the next year, real estate secondaries is likely to continue to grow, Yang added.

“That growth is something that we’re really just seeing the beginning stages of on the GP recapitalisation side,” he said.

New York and London-headquartered Sera rebranded from BFIN in February, as affiliate title PERE reported in February. It is led by former global head of Brookfield’s private funds group Leo Van den Thillart and has added five managing partners among a dozen new hires since September.

Yang and Toms did not comment on whether Brookfield – which launched a real estate secondaries investment business last year – would be able to participate in Sera-led deals.

Sera’s liquidity solutions and recapitalisations offering, which sits in its private capital advisory business, advises managers who want to recapitalise their assets and portfolios, or create liquidity through a privately negotiated transaction, asset spin-out, tail-end fund restructuring or investment in secondary interests, according to its website.

Deal volume for real estate secondaries hit $8.5 billion last year – the highest on record, according to data from Landmark. Two-thirds of that volume was driven by recapitalisations.