New York-headquartered private equity firm KKR has hired a former BlackRock and LaSalle fund manager as it prepares to push into core-plus real estate in Europe.

Ian Williamson, previously portfolio manager of the BlackRock Eurozone Core Property Fund, joins KKR as a managing director and head of core-plus real estate in Europe.

He will oversee the formation and lead KKR Real Estate’s pan-European core-plus strategy and will report to Guillaume Cassou, partner and head of real estate in Europe.

KKR’s real estate business, which was launched in 2011 with the hiring of Ralph Rosenburg, initially focused on value-add real estate in the US, before expanding into value-add in Europe and Asia, and into commercial mortgages and core-plus in the US.

Before his time at BlackRock, Williamson was head of European core funds at LaSalle Investment Management and fund manager of LaSalle’s pan-European fund. His appointment comes just over a year after former LaSalle European CEO and chairman Simon Marrison joined KKR as a senior adviser.

Last year, Cassou told IPE Real Assets that KKR planned to replicate what it was doing in the US – managing value-add, core-plus and real estate debt – in Europe.

“We don’t know if it is going to be six months down the road or three years down the road,” he said. “The beauty here is we would be coming with a clean slate.”

Most recently, the European real estate business held a final close for its second pan-European value-add and opportunistic real estate fund, raising $2.2bn (€1.9bn).

Today, Cassou said Williamson “brings an impressive track record in the European real estate sector and we’re delighted to welcome him to our expanding business”.

He added: “This appointment reinforces our commitment to investors to continue evolving and growing the European platform in order to build a high performing and diverse portfolio of investments.”

Williamson said: “KKR has built a highly credible cross-sector business in European real estate, which presents a very attractive platform from which to lead core-plus focused strategies to meet the demand for high quality real estate throughout the region.

“I join the team at a time of real momentum for the business, and look forward to bringing my expertise to bear as the business continues to grow.”