US-based real estate manager The Ardent Companies new launched a $530m (€440m) UK business and appointed Richard Benson and Andrew Hilston to lead the new venture as managing directors.

The $1.3bn manager has created Ardent Companies UK (Ardent UK) and plans to make direct real estate acquisitions through a newly launched $230m Ardent Strategic Fund I fund and will also seek investments via a $300m debt fund.

The Atlanta-based firm is currently raising capital for Ardent Financial Fund IV, its fourth debt fund, with the intention of providing structured and mezzanine level debt to both the US and UK real estate markets.

Ardent UK will continue Ardent’s strategy of being opportunity-driven and sector-agnostic by sourcing opportunities across the UK market. Particular focus will be given to opportunities within established asset classes where Ardent UK can apply value-add initiatives to derive returns that are consistent with the level of Ardent’s performance to date, the manager said.

Newly appointed Ardent UK managing directors Benson and Hilston, until recently, held senior roles at Battersea Power Station in London where they worked for over six years.

“We have the capital and confidence from the US team to hit the ground running with our UK origination strategy, focussing on opportunities to invest in high performing asset classes at a good entry rate, where we can scale up quickly and generate quality returns,” Benson said.

“We understand the UK market intimately and bring different skillsets to the table, in addition to our combined experience in deal origination, and are looking forward to working with each other and the US team in the months and years ahead,” said Hilston.

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