EUROPE - AEW Europe, which has €17bn in assets under management, has boosted its research function with the appointment of José Luis Pellicer to head the research function in London

Speaking of the challenges facing today's research function Mahdi Mokrane, head of research and strategy at AEW Europe, noted: "What has changed is the intensity with which we are called to talk to clients are trying to comprehend the risks of their existing portfolios and who may be tempted in this environment to pull back on international investments. During this critical period in the real estate markets it is vital to strengthen further our research capabilities to lead investment and portfolio management decisions."

Pellicer previously held positions in the property derivatives desks at both ING Bank - which closed at the end of last year after less than four months of operation - and Goldman Sachs but will now report to Mokrane in his new role.

Prior to this, Pellicer was also head of research at Rockspring, a position he held until February 2007. So why the move back to research?

"Even though I still have faith in the property derivatives market in the long-term, I think real estate investors are refocusing on the core business," Pellicer told IPE Real Estate. "Property derivatives did not manage to penetrate investors' core business before the downturn took hold. The property derivatives market is likely to remain small for the next few years so I have decided to go back to my core competence of research."

Mokrane added: "We think this is a very interesting market but we want to be comfortable that we are not simply swapping one risk for another. But certainly the quantitative analysis Jose brings with him with regard to the derivatives market is a great addition." 

At the same time, Pellicer sees opportunities ahead, as he commented: "In the current market, cash is king. We are able to take advantage of the repricing which we are seeing in Europe with the UK leading and the Eurozone catching up. Investors will remain cautious but are increasingly aware that repricing is happening quickly. We think the window of opportunity is opening and will not close for a while - some European markets are looking attractive on an ongoing basis."