REAL ESTATE - ING Real Estate has appointed Martin Sabelko as managing director of its Central Europe investment management business five months after his predecessor quit the job.

Sabelko will be responsible for local management of the ING Property Fund Central Europe, as well as driving the firm’s regional investment strategy.

For the past five months, the manager of ING’s Dutch retail fund has moonlighted on the Central Europe fund.

Asked why the firm had taken so long to appoint a permanent fund manager, ING spokesman Wieger Sietsma cited the difficulty of finding one with experience in a relatively new regional market.

He said: “We’ve been looking for a fund manager with specific qualities. Martin has extensive experience. Real estate investment management in Central Europe is a new business, and there are not that many people who can provide it.”

Another reason for the long delay in appointing a new fund manager was the scale of Sabelko’s existing commitments.

The Austrian national joins from Sabcon Immobilienberatung, a consultancy he founded after leaving DTZ Austria as managing partner. He has now found a successor to run the consultancy firm.

Recruitment has been a recurring issue for ING Real Estate in Central Europe. In September development chief executive Paul Trip resigned over repeated delays in the construction of a Warsaw shopping centre (IPE Real Estate, 6 September 2005). Wojciech Orlof will join as Poland country manager in May 2006.