Ex-Whiterock CFO aims for success with Europe focused REIT

The former Chief Financial Officer of Northwest Value Partners Inc. and Whiterock REIT intends to borrow some of the strategies of those two success stories at newly formed Holland Global Capital Corp.
Just as Northwest has, Holland Global CEO’s Kursat Kacira (shown in picture), wants his company to invest in overseas properties.
In Holland Global’s case, it will be in undervalued, but rock-solid Europe markets. And following the Northwest model, the company wants to buy the properties that fall between the trophy assets of interest to deep-pocketed buyers such as Canadian pension funds and private equity buyers who are searching for distressed real estate.
“It is really like Whiterock did,” explained Kacira, terming the assets he is interested in as `core plus’ properties. “It is high quality real estate that is smaller in size, smaller buildings, and just a little farther away from critical nodes. So it is your high quality B-plus, A-minus real estate that doesn’t fit in for Blackstone, doesn’t fit in for CPP.
“It is this niche, there is hardly anybody in these countries looking for that,” he added. One outfit that is and does look for such assets is Dundee International, which pioneered the hot new REIT format of the Canadian-based, internationally focused REIT.
“Dundee would be for me the closest peer to what I am trying to build,” he said.
Knows the Dundee story
Kacira never worked for Dundee but he might as well have.
“That entire deal, it was a $1.4-billion deal, was done by three of us in the REIT,” he said. The trio included Whiterock’s CEO Jason Underwood and the firm’s director of acquisition.
“Until was press released announced, we actually couldn’t share it with anybody in the organization. It was a very intense Christmas and New Year’s but it was successful. We even got a price increase,” during the process of negotiations with Dundee.
Kacira argues that investors today face an “historic” opportunity in select European countries to buy high-quality real estate. The sellers are not-quite distressed, rather institutions and investment funds who loaded up on properties prior to the financial crisis and are now eager to get them off their books.
“Netherlands is a great country to start for us because it is one of those unique across the board triple A countries that has suffered because of the credit crisis,” he explained. “It is fantastic for acquiring real estate right now.”
Looking for opportunities down the road
Holland Global’s qualifying transaction fits with its model: a large-scale industrial complex, leased for the next eight years to a subsidiary of U.S.-based Rexnord Corp. It paid approximately $9.1 million for the property, sited 30 kilometres northwest of Rotterdam, which is home to the largest port in Europe and a hub of international business activity.
Such opportunities simply don’t exist close to home, he said. “The kind of properties you want to buy in Canada, are not available any more,” he said. The best properties are owned by huge pension funds and large cap real estate companies and REITs own the next tier of properties.
“Canada has become a very sophisticated and mature market and if you think you are getting a good deal here, you are probably fooling yourself.”
That is not the case in Europe, he argued. “Internationally, what happened is the opposite: all of a sudden not only did the yields become attractive but the highest quality real estate across the continent has become available. You go to London, Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt, everything is for sale.”
Holland Global’s initial focus will be on the Netherlands and beyond its borders, Germany, Belgium, Austria and France, all “quite unique in being investment grade and having opportunities that are attractive.”
The U.K. and the Scandanavian countries are also a future possibility but the company has ruled out being a player in the troubled southern European countries as well as Eastern Europe.
International, but no mystery man
Kacira boasts an intriguing and unique background. Born in Canada, his mother was from France and his father was Turkish so he holds an EU passport. He’s a chartered accountant who worked with Price Waterhouse in Toronto and Paris, is a former investment banker who worked on Wall St. with Bear Stearns and Bay St. with TD Securities and then got into the real estate business with Whiterock as CFO and later Northwest Value Partners and its healthcare REIT GT Canada Medical Properties.
“I have spent my whole life kind of going back and forth to Europe because of family and then my education took me to the United States and then Wall Street so I’m immersed in the American perspective as well,” he said. “So what I offer investors is something unique also as a CEO in that I’m multi-national as an individual.”



Paul is a writer, editor and media trainer based in Toronto with over 25 years of experience as a business reporter. He has written for Canada’s major news services on…

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Paul is a writer, editor and media trainer based in Toronto with over 25 years of experience as a business reporter. He has written for Canada’s major news services on…

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