The head of Morgan Stanley’s Australian real estate business, Chris Tynan, is leaving to help expand Blackstone’s operations in the country.

Industry sources told IPE Real Estate that, given Tynan’s acquisition record with Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing (MSREI), Blackstone could be aiming to double its current portfolio of AUD3.7bn (€2.49bn) “in the next two years”.

These sources say that, following the $15.8bn (€14.8bn) raised this year for its latest global real estate fund, the US private equity giant has plenty of cash available to invest.

“I believe Blackstone is looking to Chris to crank up acquisitions in Australia,” said one source.

In a statement, Chris Heady, Blackstone’s Asia head of real estate, said: “We have built a substantial real estate platform here in core-plus and opportunistic equity, as well as debt, and we will continue to expand (both equity and debt). Chris brings a great deal of local expertise that will help drive our Australian business to the next level.”

Tynan played a key role in Morgan Stanley’s initial foray into Australia in 2007 through its then record-breaking AUD6.6bn takeover of Investa. He then helped assemble significant holdings in real estate debt and crippled listed real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

At the peak, Morgan Stanley assets in Australia totalled almost AUD10bn.

Tynan oversaw the restructuring and repositioning of many of these assets, in the process rehabilitating many of the companies, from which Morgan Stanley has now started to exit.

The sale in July of Investa Office Trust, owner of a portfolio of prime office buildings (mostly in Sydney and Melbourne) to China Investment Corporation (CIC) for AUD2.45bn signifies the investment bank’s partial exit from Australia.

Tynan will stay on with Morgan Stanley until the last piece of the Investa business – the management rights of its largest unlisted entity, Investa Commercial Office Fund – is finally wrapped up in coming weeks.

The move looks well timed to observers, leaving a much reduced Morgan Stanley property business as he joins an expansionary Blackstone from the beginning of next year.

Blackstone entered the Australian market in 2011 when it picked up the wreckage of the once high-flying Valad Property Group – since rebranded 151 Property – for AUD806m.

It has since recycled assets from the Valad portfolio. These include the high-profile sale of Goldfields House in Sydney’s Circular Quay for AUD415m – a price many had thought unlikely for an ageing office block – almost a year ago. The buyer was the Chinese developer Dalian Wanda.

This year, Blackstone acquired three shopping centres from the listed Australian entity Scentre for AUD630m.

One source told IPE Real Estate that Tynan has done “a great job at MSREI” over the past decade, and that he leaves with the firm’s genuine best wishes.

The source added that, even with Tynan’s departure, MSREI will have “plenty of cover”. One of his colleagues, Rob Josevski, succeeds him as the head of MSRE.