UNITED STATES - RREEF is losing one of its top executives as Steve Steppe has resigned and leaves at the end of July.

Steppe is now on gardening leave – a term used by the asset management industry stating he is not allowed to work for any company for his remaining notice period – having been a managing partner with the company and chairman of RREEF’s North American business operation since January.

He was replaced by Tim Gonzalez as chief executive officer for the region in January.

Officials in the pension fund real estate industry are speculating Steppe will remain in the San Francisco Bay Area, having been based there for many years but industry speculation suggests he could create his own company.

RREEF is one of the top real estate managers in the United States, with a wide range of investment products on offer and total real estate assets under management of $28.3bn ($20.8bn euros).

The organisation also advises many of the country’s major pension funds via separate account relationships, including the California Public Employees Retirement System which currently has a deal with RREEF – set to close this month – to sell around $2.8bn of the CalWest industrial portfolio to Walton Street Capital.

RREEF invests in a wide variety of properties types including core office, industrial, retail and apartment investments as well as pursing niche property types such as medical office and student housing.