UNITED STATES - Urdang Capital Management has taken a novel approach to building a new real estate debt strategy by hiring eight people from Capmark Investments, as the move means it will also act as a non-discretionary sub-adviser for two of Capmark's commingled funds.

The Capmark Structured Real Estate Partners and Capmark VII-CRE funds have attracted big pension fund investors in the past, pulling commitments worth $60m (€40.2m) from Virginia Retirement System, $100m from Teacher Retirement System of Texas, $100m from California Public Employees Retirement System and $80m from Teacher Retirement System of Ohio.

Urdang is looking diversify its real estate strategy beyond investing in direct property and REITs, and officials have noted debt has become one of the hot investment themes.

The three top executives movig from Capmark to Urdang are executive vice president Jacqueline Brady and senior vice presidents Margaret Blakey and Brent Morris.  All three of these people were involved in the management of Capmark Structured Real Estate Partners - a commingled fund valued at $522.6m at the end of March 2009.

The previous investment strategy for Structured Real Estate Partners was to make debt investments in all four asset classes, a number of which were in mezzanine debt positions.

Urdang will now be responsible for finding deals for the commingled fund but an approval on any deal would need to come from Capmark before any transaction can be completed.