Orion appoints UK head of retail

Orion Capital Managers has appointed a new UK head of retail, Real Estate Capital can reveal.

Orion Capital Managers has appointed a new UK head of retail, Real Estate Capital can reveal.

The private equity firm has appointed Richard Low (pictured) to the position, formerly partner at Cogent Property Solutions.

richard-low croppedCo-founded by Aref Lahham, Van Stults and Bruce Bossom, Orion is one of the most acquisitive real estate investors in Europe and has built a reputation for entering distressed markets early in their cycles. It is currently investing its €1.3bn Orion European Real Estate Fund IV.

Orion is still looking to grow its UK retail portfolio, which is now valued at more than £500m. It includes East Kilbride Shopping Centre near Glasgow and Wakefield Trinity.

Low co-founded Glasgow-based asset management company Cogent in 2009 at the market’s nadir and the business was successful in taking on a number of appointments in Scotland.

Cogent was mandated to manage shopping centres that were previously under the control of Glenn Maud’s Propinvest after control of the underwater assets was taken back by Royal Bank of Scotland. These included Renfrew Retail Park, Callendar Square in Falkirk, Paisley Shopping Centre and most notably East Kilbride Shopping Centre near Glasgow.

The enormous 1.4m sq ft centre was bought by Propinvest in 2007 for £405m from British Land and Land Securities but in 2010 RBS took control of the scheme and 10 other centres, together known as the Blade portfolio, against which it held £900m of debt. Jamie Ritblat’s Delancey then bought East Kilbride from the bank using vendor finance and the centre was subsequently sold to Orion for £180m in September last year.

Prior to Cogent, Low headed Combined Property Services, a company that managed the assets of private investor Paul Green. These included the 1m sq ft Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow prior to Lloyds Banking Group calling in the loan held against it and putting it up for sale in late 2009. The centre’s £300m purchase by Hammerson and CPPIB was one of the largest undertaken in the UK at the bottom of the market.

Orion has been investing in Italy recently, last month having bought three shopping centres in the north-east of the country from hypermarket operator Unicomm for €200m. It is already divesting of assets in Spain, selling its Puerto Venecia shopping centre in Zaragoza to Intu for €451m last month and it is in the process of selling its Plenilunio mall in Madrid for €400m, having started investing back in 2009.