GLOBAL - Apollo Real Estate Advisors, the global firm with $11.6bn of equity commitments to investments worldwide, is changing its name to AREA Property Partners from the beginning of next year.

AREA Property Partners said the rebrand will have no effect on its management, financial resources, investing focus nor on its business operations as the firm plans to keep its global headquarters in New York City and its European headquarters in London's Knightsbridge.

Andrew Derrick, a spokesperson for Apollo Real Estate Advisors, said the new name was designed to "mitigate any confusion" between the firm and its affiliations with Apollo Global Management.

"Formal ties ceased in 2000. Apollo Global Management wanted to get into real estate in its own right and we were confronted with two companies with the same name. We decided to change the name to mitigate any confusion. It was an amicable decision," said Derrick.

In all, the investment partnerships have invested approximately $5.2bn of equity, of which $4.2bn has been invested in the United States and over $1bn in Europe.

William Benjamin, managing partner of AREA's European activities, said: "The current market is creating numerous interesting opportunities throughout Western and Central Europe and the next couple of years will be challenging and should be fruitful."

The firm operates a mix of opportunistic and debt funds and value-added funds and closed its latest European dedicated fund in March 2008 at a total of around $1.4bn.

Speaking about the investment plans for the European fund, Andrea Orlandi, director at Apollo Real Estate, said: "It is a four-year investment period. What we are seeing now is that we have moved more East, to Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, and we have taken on more developments."

The fund has said it will also be making investments in more traditional Western markets.

"Our expectation is that we will be investing more in the UK, Germany, France and Spain, as these markets are going to keep us busier."

Recent major European transactions have included the joint venture to acquire half of Capital & Regional's German retail portfolio and the joint venture with Multi Turkmall, one of Turkey's largest shopping centre developers, to buy the Carrefour Merter Shopping Centre in Istanbul for €257m.

That said, the firm admits the financial crisis has made it reconsider its investment strategy.

"These are challenging times, but there are some very interesting opportunities coming up. The investment strategy is constantly being refined. It is about picking investments carefully. You must pick the right things at the right time," said Derrick. 

AREA Property Partners also has investments under management in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and India. These include the St Katherine's Dock retail property next to the Tower of London and the Pascal Towers, two adjacent office blocks in Paris.

Its US investments include the Time Warner Centre and 1290 Avenue of Americas in New York, and the Champion Gate in Orlando.

AREA Property Partners was founded in 1993 by William Mack and Leon Black and has been a real estate investor and fund manager for government and corporate pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies, foundations and high net worth individuals.