EUROPE - Ric Lewis has left AEW Europe but will continue to advise two of its institutional real estate funds from the helm of new fund management company Tristan Capital Partners.

Lewis established AEW's European platform as Curzon Global Partners in 1999, becoming chief investment officer when it was restructured and rebranded as AEW Europe.

He has now sought to return to his "entrepreneurial" roots by setting up his own boutique firm which will work in joint venture on two of AEW Europe's funds: European Property Investors (EPI) and European Property Investors Special Opportunities (EPISO).

"I have the best of both worlds," Lewis said. "I get to have a continuing relationship with most of the colleagues I've worked with and the team I've built up over the 10 years running the two real estate funds for AEW, but I also have the freedom of that entrepreneurial approach that I was hoping to get back to."

Lewis cited "a divergence of philosophy" that emerged between himself and AEW Europe as the driver for the move.

"I tried for a while to convince my partners that we needed to make sure that we try to isolate and retain that entrepreneurial business, but it was more important to rebrand and institutionalise the business," he said.

Tristan's only current mandate is as sub-adviser and executive portfolio manager for both EPI and EPISO funds, but the company will be able to raise its own funds in the future.

"The business model that served our industry over the last few years won't be the business model that will prevail over the next few years," said Lewis.

"There will be a gravitation back to very well closely-aligned and entrepreneurial boutiques where investors are betting on a person and a team."

"I intend that Tristan will be among the market leaders in capitalising on the unique chances resulting from the wholesale restructuring underway in the European real estate industry."

Lewis said the opportunities that will arise in the next few years, as a result of the dislocation in the European real estate markets, "will be the best for the past 20 years".

Tristan will be seeking opportunistic situations across European markets and sectors.

"We are looking at people or organisations that do what they do well or have good assets, but are starved for capital or have a problem in their portfolio," he said.

These sorts of situations, he added, can be found "almost anywhere now".