TH Real Estate has established a real estate debt investment business in Australia, hiring Martin Priestley to run the unit.

The property investment manager – an affiliate of TIAA’s investment management arm Nuveen – said Priestley will be based in Sydney and report to Nick Evans, executive director and head of Australia, and Jack Gay, the head of global debt investment.

Priestley is joining TH Real Estate from CBRE, where he led the debt and structured finance team in Asia-Pacific.

TH Real Estate, which has existing real estate debt investment businesses in the US and Europe, has long been looking to enter the non-bank lending market in Australia.

As well as establishing a debt funds business in Australia, Priestley will oversee investment in Australian debt for the TIAA General Account.

Evans said: “Martin’s appointment is a reflection of our ongoing commitment and intention to build a strong business in Australia across real estate debt and equity.”

Priestley said this was an exciting time for TH Real Estate because it was committing to one of the most sophisticated real estate debt markets in the world.

As reported in the latest edition of IPE Real Assets, Australian debt is beginning to attract international investors. Priestly – still in his capacity at CBRE – said: “The market is at an inflexion point. Relative returns from debt investment are as good as they get.”

Gay said demand for non-bank debt in Australia was steadily growing. 

“Building a CRE debt team in Australia will complement our existing team in the US and Europe, providing our clients with global debt expertise and track record,” he said.