GLOBAL - Oxford Properties, the real estate division of Canadian pension fund OMERS, has appointed Simon Marriott to lead its European investment programme as it gears up to make its first acquisitions in the UK since 2007.

Marriott, head of acquisitions in the UK at private equity real estate advisory firm MGPA, will join Oxford on 1 February 2010.
Oxford owns and manages a portfolio of prime income-producing and development properties across Canada and holds interests in real estate assets and developments abroad.

The OMERS subsidiary first invested in the UK in 2007 when it acquired a 250-year ground lease from UBS South East Recovery Fund to develop Watermark Place, which was opened in 2008.

The company has been building up its European operation and Marriott's appointment is likely to enable Oxford to begin on a new acquisition programme.

Paul Brundage, executive vice president of Oxford Properties and senior managing director for Europe, said: "Simon's appointment is the next step in the growth of our European business. We set up the European office in London at the end of 2008 and have spent the last year building a team that reflects Oxford 's strengths and ambitions globally."

He continued: "We have significant capital to invest in real estate in the UK over the next couple of years and Simon has a mandate to work with the team to take our investment in Europe to the next level."
Oxford has identified opportunities in the UK for investment in the near future, although it is looking to invest across Europe over a longer time horizon.

"We have initially identified the London office sector as being of interest for core and value-add investments and so Oxford will be pursuing opportunities in this sector as a priority," said Brundage.

"However, that does not preclude further investments in continental Europe and certainly, over the next couple of years, we expect to make some key investments on the continent."