UNITED STATES - Real estate finance specialists Drew Fung and Thanh Bui have left RREEF Real Estate to help establish a property debt platform at Clarion Partners.

Fung, formerly head of US high yield debt at RREEF, and Bui, a vice president, will enable Clarion to invest in subordinated debt instruments back by commercial real estate in the US, including mezzanine loans and preferred equity interests.

The company has identified the US real estate debt market as a significant opportunity, estimating a funding shortfall of more than $200bn (€164bn) over the next four years.

Steve Furnary, chairman and CEO at Clarion, said: "This is an excellent time for us to broaden our platform to include what we believe are uniquely attractive segments of the debt sector."

Fung, appointed as a managing director and head of debt investments in the New York office, said the move would be an opportunity to combine Clarion's existing real estate expertise with his 25 years of experience in the property debt markets.

"With more than 1,200 investments across the US, the scale of the Clarion portfolio provides significant insight into all the major markets and gives us a unique ability to execute intelligently on this compelling opportunity," he said.

"The US mortgage finance system is changing dramatically. There have been clear shifts in the sources of debt capital, the complexion of the investments, and the needs of both providers and users."

Bui also joins as a managing director and will be a senior member of the debt investment team with responsibility for programme development and implementation.

The departure of Fung and Bui from RREEF follows a period of uncertainty over the future of the real estate investment management company. Talks between Deutsche Bank and Guggenheim Partners over a potential sale of the business broke down earlier this year, and the German banking group has suggested it will now retain the subsidiary.