Former Metropolitan Americas head joins real estate rival

West coast-based Margaret McKnight had left the Carlyle Group real estate subsidiary in September last year after nearly 14 years.

The former head of the Americas at Metropolitan Real Estate Investment Management has resurfaced.

Margaret McKnight has joined StepStone Group as a partner focused on advisory, secondaries and co-investments, according to a statement about her hire. She will remain based in San Francisco.

“Margaret’s skills and experience as an institutional real estate advisor and investor, especially in secondaries and co-investments, make her an ideal addition to our leadership team,” said Jeff Giller, head of StepStone Real Estate.

McKnight left Metropolitan in September last year after nearly 14 years with the Carlyle Group subsidiary, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was co-head of the Americas from 2018 to 2019 and co-chief-investment-officer from 2013 to 2018. Prior to that she spent seven years as a consultant with Cambridge Associates.

In September, StepStone raised $1.4 billion for StepStone Real Estate Partners IV, above its target of $1 billion and double the size of its 2015-vintage predecessor. StepStone’s strategy involves complex secondaries deals such as restructurings, acquiring LP interests in long-dated funds and preferred equity-type transactions.

Coronavirus has caused the real estate secondaries market to split between highly prized assets such as data centres, which sometimes price at a premium, and those such as retail and hospitality, which are deeply discounted, Secondaries Investor reported in August. Uncertainty about pricing in the direct market is likely to lead to an increase in GP-led opportunities as GPs aim to hold assets for longer, according to market sources.

Real estate secondaries volume dropped 53.4 percent year-on-year to $890 million in the first half of this year, making it the second-largest faller after private equity, according to data from intermediary Setter Capital.