EUROPE - LaSalle Investment Management has appointed Jamie Lyon to head its European finance and operations as it gears up for another year of expansion via increasingly complex deals.

Lyon, former finance director of developers ProLogis, will bring and tax, accounting and systems expertise to a real estate fund manager that has grown its cross-border European business significantly in recent years. In 2005 alone the company launched a €1bn closed fund in France, a retail fund in Germany, and a €10bn pan-European fund, as well as funds in the UK.

With €2.5bn capital to invest, the firm plans to continue expanding across Europe in 2006, including through joint ventures and debt facilities.

“As the group becomes more complicated, we need to ensure we have an infrastructure robust enough to support it,” said LaSalle spokeswoman Anna Connell.

European CEO Jeff Jacobson said Lyon’s appointment reflected the growing sophistication of the firm’s products and the higher demands of investors.

“It’s a function of how the business has evolved,” he said. “I and the other executive officers were finding ourselves pulled into operational issues more than we would have liked,” he said. “With Jamie’s appointment we’ll be able to focus on what we’re good at: strategy.”

Regulatory regimes introduced in recent years – notably IAS39 accounting rules in the EU and the strictures of Sarbanes—Oxley for US-listed companies – have increased pressure on fund managers to develop systems for transparent corporate reporting. But Jacobson said thriving business, rather than busy regulators, had driven Lyon’s appointment.

“You have to deal with regulation, but we’d be doing this stuff even without the added overlay,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the US, Jones Lang LaSalle, LaSalle’s sister company, in January completed its acquisition of Spaulding & Slye, a private US real estate and investment company, for $150m cash. The deal strengthens Jones Lang LaSalle’s presence in New England, although Spaulding & Slye will retain its brand identity at least in the short term.