Union Hanover eyes £1bn hotel portfolio

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Managing director, Corporate governance, Management

The new team at Union Hanover Securities, which will be led by Eric Jafari (centre)
The new team at Union Hanover Securities, which will be led by Eric Jafari (centre)
Real estate investment and hotel development firm Union Hanover Securities has secured a major equity injection which will allow it to grow its £350m portfolio to over £1bn over the next five years.

The new finance, from EquityBridge Asset Management (EBAM), has sparked a number of new appointments at Union Hanover, who will together help to develop the group’s extended stay concept Urban Villa and hostel chain Hoax into major brands.

Urban Villa, the co-creation of Jafari and Fowler, recently received planning permission for a 217-bedroom property in Whitechapel and a 182-room property in Aberdeen. Meanwhile, Hoax opened a 49-bedroom, 244-bed Liverpool hostel in August.

With this investment, Union Hanover Securities is planning further hotel developments in Aldgate, Waterloo, Stratford, Edinburgh, and Portsmouth.

Competitive advantage

Black Lion House, a 75,000sq.ft office block in London’s East End, is to be converted into a 220-bedroom Urban Villa hotel

Eric Jafari, previously the chief executive and co-founder of BridgePoint Ventures, has been appointed as the European Managing Director to spearhead the growth, while Jafari's former colleague Peter Debs has also moved across to Union Hanover as managing director.

Andrew Fowler, formerly the Director of Property Acquisition for StayCity, has been appointed as hospitality director, and Merzak Kaddour, the former head of hospitality finance at National Australia Group, is joining in April as hotels operations director.

Jafari said: “EquityBridge Asset Management's capital injection has provided us with the resources to develop an institutional grade platform with the experience and depth to cover all three facets of hospitality: property development, operations and creative brand development. 

“This provides us with a very clear and demonstrable competitive advantage in our space.”

Key appointments

Fowler added: “With limited resources Union Hanover was able to assemble a £350 million GDV portfolio. 

“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 £1bn within five years.”

Other key appointments at the firm include Charles Cresser, who comes in from Jones Lang LaSalle as European development director; Laura Prosser from Ashurst LLP as general councel; and Muhammad Mushtaq from Auriga Holdings as group financial controller.

Speaking of EBAM’s decision to back Union Hanover, the investment firm’s managing director Warren Malschinger said: "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. I have got to know Eric, Charles, Laura, Peter and Andrew very well - they make a formidable combination.”

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