Estates Gazette Power List 2016

EG brings you the ultimate guide to the property players
to watch over the next 12 months

Tweet your views @estatesgazette with the #EGPowerList hashtag

Global shifts, technological advances, mergers and acquisitions, and fresh blood shaking up the sector – a lot can happen over 12 months in property. Peppered with new names and debut entries, this year’s Power List reveals just how much the industry has moved on since this time last year as the stalwarts battle it out for the top spots with a fresh wave of influencers, power players and innovators

Rio Ferdinand, legacy projects

Ferdinand makes the list not for football, but for aiming to regenerate some of the country’s most deprived areas through sport. He will be at MIPIM to shed a little more light on his legacy projects, a series of sports-led, mixed-use regeneration schemes, first revealed by EG at MIPIM UK last October. Ferdinand already has Aviva Investors and Colliers International on board and has held talks with a number of local authorities.

David Lewis, head of London office, NBBJ

A 700-strong company split across 10 global offices, and considered one of the most futuristic architects in the world, NBBJ is the designer behind the Samsung and Amazon HQs in Seattle and the new Facebook campus in California. Here in the UK, Lewis is pushing the practice’s UK business to new heights, from shadowless buildings to ward-free hospitals and some of the most cutting-edge life sciences developments
in the world. The man to know for anyone who wants to ensure they are designing for the future.

Franco Sidoli, executive director, CBRE

There are some people who don’t need to use their full name. Madonna, Cher, Bono, Boris. And Franco. Name almost any deal in the London real estate world and chances are Franco will have been involved. He is the man with all the connections. If you want to know what’s going on in the investment world, you need to know him.

John Whittaker, founder, Peel Group

It has been said that you can walk from Liverpool to Manchester without leaving land owned by Whittaker’s Peel Group. The Scouse mogul with an estimated fortune of £2.3bn is driving the northern powerhouse with 150 property and infrastructure schemes, including the Port of Salford, Port of Liverpool and MediaCityUK. Peel has invested more than £5bn in the North of England over the last 25 years and appears to show no sign of stopping.

Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation

The woman in property with access to Downing Street and the ear of housing minister Brandon Lewis, Leech represents the biggest names in the property industry. Investment banks, institutional investors and professional firms are also members of the lobby group, which is leading the charge to improve government taxes and policy. With her background as the director general of the Food and Drink Federation, Leech has a track record of implementing change.

David Mann & Saleem Fazal, founders, Freehold

When 21% of the property sector feels discriminated against at work – based on their gender, sexuality, age, race or disability – something has to change. This figure, revealed in the EG Salary Survey 2015, is being tackled head on by a multitude of diversity campaigners. Mann and Fazal, founders of the industry’s LGBT property networking group, are just two making a real difference.

Lynda Shillaw, divisional chief executive, Manchester Airports Group

Shillaw is currently leading the £1bn redevelopment of Manchester International Airport, where Chinese investors have been circling since President Xi Jinping’s visit last summer. The former director of real estate at  Aberdeen Asset Management is also leading the £800m regeneration of Airport City Manchester, in partnership with Beijing Construction Engineering Group, Carillion and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

David Hopkins, managing director, Timber Trade Federation

Mega-tall skyscrapers of steel, glass and concrete have become so commonplace that the growing trend towards tall timber towers is heralding a return to a more sustainable skyline with retro stylings. Hopkins is at the forefront of promoting timber as the world’s leading renewable, low carbon construction material.

Dan Van Gelder, director, Exemplar

Everyone in the property world knows Van Gelder’s name. As founder of development giant Exemplar he has steered gargantuan projects like the 750,000 sq ft Fitzroy Place, W1. His tenure as chairman of the Westminster Property Association and his role on the West End Partnership board have been instrumental in the area remaining a hotspot.

Frances Middleton, transition therapist

In 20 years’ time the over-65s will make up nearly 23% of the UK population, up from 17% today. Downsizing, retirement housing and the return of the silver pound to city centres will be big business. And Middleton is here to make sure the property sector gets the stock right. A therapist specialising in advising over 55s on how to tackle all of the above, she is one step ahead of the trends emerging in this sector. And she is on hand to share them with the industry to ensure they know exactly how to make the most of this massive asset class.

Pankaj Patel & Andrew Taylor, directors, Patel Taylor

White City, Battersea Power Station, London Dock – Patel Taylor’s project list is the stuff of masterplanners’ dreams. From Berkeley to Barratt, Canary Wharf Group to Qatari Diar and St James to St George, the architectural practice is becoming the designer of choice among the capital’s biggest and best-known developers. These guys are perfectly placed to deliver live, work, play developments.

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The future is now

DroneIt really wasn’t that long ago that the likes of driverless cars, drones, 3D printers and the virtually endless opportunities afforded by the so-called Internet of Things (machines communicating with each other) existed only in the realms of science fiction and ambition. But not only are they fast becoming a reality, the pace at which they are entering the mainstream of everyday life is breath-taking. Integrating the use of such tech into property businesses via a sound and long term digital strategy could be the difference between growth of 10% or 10-fold, suggest some analysts.

Paul Scialla, founder and chief executive, Delos

The former Goldman Sachs partner is the brains behind Delos, the first wellness real estate company, which has Leonardo DiCaprio and Deepak Chopra sitting on its advisory board. Now it has launched the International WELL Building Institute, which administers the WELL Building Standard globally to improve human health through the built environment. As it catches on here in the UK, he will only become more influential.

Frank Wang, founder and chief executive, DJI

Having founded the Chinese technology company in 2006, Wang has grown DJI to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial drones. In roughly the same time period, this nifty piece of tech has gone from costing tens of thousands to several hundred pounds, making an increasingly vital tool much more affordable for use in designing, building and managing property.

Palmer Luckey, founder, Oculus VR and inventor of Oculus Rift

When it is released later this month, Oculus Rift will become one of the first consumer-targeted virtual reality headsets in the world. Its 23-year-old inventor is one of the most high-profile players in a field that has been tipped as the one to watch in 2016, particularly for real estate. Once considered the epitome of futuristic, VR is here, and it is happening now.

Brandon Lewis, minister of state for housing and planning

Put into position less than 12 months before the general election, Lewis has since had to walk a tightrope between a government focused on home ownership and an industry wanting to invest billions in renting. While adamantly toeing the party line, he has nevertheless shown his support for the burgeoning PRS. That ongoing support will be crucial for the future growth of the sector: encouraging investment, parrying calls for regulation and allowing flexibility in the planning system.

Shareholder activists

No recent development has influenced the strategic and financial decision-making of listed firms as profoundly as the surge in shareholder activism following the global financial crisis. That is the view of JP Morgan, which says that in 2003 activist funds managed less than a total of $12bn (£8.5bn). Now they manage more than $112bn in assets. With sizeable discounts in NAV to share prices starting to appear again, expect activists such as Elliott Capital Advisors and Crystal Amber to start making demands on the real estate sector this year.

Bill Hughes, head of real assets, Legal & General

Hughes has responsibility for leading the UK’s third-largest real estate investor. Since 2007 he has taken the business in new directions, including lending and infrastructure, and in 2014 he was made president of the British Property Federation.

Frank Vettese, managing partner Canada and chief executive, Deloitte

The driving force behind the overhaul of Deloitte’s Montreal and Toronto HQ buildings. Ripping out hundreds of individual cubicles and replacing them with 18 different types of bookable workstation takes guts, but competing with tech companies for talent is a real challenge for traditional firms. Vettese’s vision could be the answer.

Sam Vasili, real estate analyst, Google

The man behind Google’s location strategy, Vasili made his Power List debut last year and is back this year – 16 places further up the list. Where the tech giant is set to go next is a bigger deal than ever as the group continues to expand. The company’s 20-something EMEA real estate portfolio analyst is busy working up Google’s future space requirements and portfolio metrics.

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, president, Supreme Court

In his time as president, the number of property cases reaching the highest court in the land has shown a marked increase. In 2015, the hits kept on coming, including, of course, one of the most talked about property cases of all – the Marks & Spencer break clause battle. This year, under Lord Neuberger’s leadership, the court will address such diverse topics as fishing rights, landbanking and the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on possession proceedings.

Jeff Bezos, founder, Amason

It is not just Bezos’ $48.9bn (£34bn) net worth that has got him on the list, it is because he has set the pace for the evolution of the entire property sector. Amazon’s growth has prompted retailers, the logistics sector and tech firms to rethink their strategy for future success, which relies on how much they can keep up with Bezos and his ideas.

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Juliette-Morgan-FOTThe innovators

Without change there would be no progress. There would also be no innovation. Lucky then that the property industry is slowly but surely getting better at embracing new ideas, fresh faces and the unknown. Mind you, it is not like it has a choice. The likes of Laurence Kemball-Cook, Juliette Morgan and Paul Scialla are leading the charge regardless of whether the industry is ready or not. All three have taken their rightful places in the Estates Gazette Power List this year. Change is scary. But the biggest risk of all is refusing to adapt.

Brett White, chief executive, Cushman & Wakefield

White has a reputation for taking businesses by the scruff of their neck and making them global leaders in their space. Before becoming chief executive of C&W he successfully took CBRE from being a traditional brokerage to a leading real estate services firm. That experience may well be needed as he integrates the business with DTZ and prepares it for an IPO.

Nick Leslau, chief executive, Prestbury Investments

When Leslau makes a call, people listen. Eclectic in interests and influences, but a property man at heart, he now controls £1.3bn long-leasehold firm Secure Income REIT through his management company Prestbury, and is clearly licking his lips at instability in the market. Expect to see him ramp up his activities in the near future.

George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer

Osborne’s influence on the UK economy is perhaps unparalleled, but it is his decisions around stamp duty that have put him on this list. His 2014 attempt to cool a hot market, while at the same time tapping into a new source of tax revenue with a steep rise in Stamp Duty, backfired. A fall in receipts for the first eight months of 2015 meant the Exchequer is set to receive £870m less from stamp duty for the year. Meanwhile, the impact of the impending 3% land tax levy on buy-to-let properties is already being felt in the rush to complete transactions in advance of its introduction.

Ben Brabyn, head, Level39

A former captain in the Royal Marines and formerly chief operating officer of UKTI’s Venture Capital unit. Just a month into the new role he has yet to make his mark, but now all eyes will be on Brabyn to see what he does with Europe’s largest tech accelerator as it expands this year.

Juliette Morgan, partner, Cushman & Wakefield, and founder, PiLabs

In a sector as fast moving as tech, Morgan remains a constant beacon of authority – because she is prepared to move at the same pace as the world in which she operates. Never afraid to adapt, innovate or drive change, Morgan’s nickname, The Queen of Tech, could not be more fitting. She has a substantial audience and wields her influence effortlessly by doing, not preaching.

Sir Richard Leese/Sir Howard Bernstein

The dream team has engineered the rise and rise of the capital of the North, challenging Birmingham’s status as the UK’s second city. With the government’s devolution agenda and George Obsorne’s championing of the northern powerhouse, Bernstein and Leese are natural leaders and where they go, others cities follow.

Laurence Kemball-Cook, chief executive, Pavegen

Young, smart and saving the world one tile at a time. Kemball-Cook is the founder of Pavegen, a revolutionary tile that converts kinetic energy into electricity. The real estate industry is one of the biggest contributors to the world’s growing sustainability issues and Kemball-Cook is on a mission to help it give back instead of add to the environmental decline. The multi-award winning TED Talks sensation could not only help you save money on your energy bills but score serious brownie points when it comes to your corporate social responsibility.

Wes Fuller, executive managing director, Greystar

Fuller relocated to the UK from America last summer to lead the expansion of Greystar’s £2bn student housing empire, as well as its move into PRS. Given what the firm has achieved in less than two years, coupled with its relationships with the likes of Prudential Real Estate Investors, Pimco and REST Industry Super, its grand plans look set to shake up the market on this side of the pond.

Alison Platt, chief executive, Countrywide

Former air stewardess Platt is flying high at the helm of Britain’s biggest estate agent. Countrywide, also the nation’s largest lettings agent and biggest mortgage broker, recorded a 20% rise in income to £702.2m in February 2015, following its first year as a publicly listed company, while profit grew 63% to a record £102.4m. Platt’s prowess also led to the swift reversal of a profit warning last November and a profit upgrade in early 2016.

Next London mayor, Goldsmith v Khan?

Who will steer the UK capital through periods of rapid transformation? As well as the advent of Crossrail, major new regeneration schemes are revitalising parts of the city. With decisions on future developments lying largely with the successful candidate, the property world will undoubtedly follow the election race with baited breath. Incumbent Boris Johnson has acted as a brand ambassador for London investment and is generally regarded by the industry as being pro-development. Will the
next mayor be so enthusiastic?

Top 3 Power List players 2011-2015
1 2 3
2011 Stephen Hester, chief executive, Royal Bank of Scotland (2011) Antonio Horta-Osorio, chief executive, Lloyds Banking Group (2011) Irish finance minister
2012 Sovereign wealth funds Stephen Hester & Aubrey Adams, head of property RBS (2012) Antonio Horta-Osorio and Richard Dakin, Chief executive and head of corporate real estate, Lloyds Banking Group (2012)
2013 The UK shopper Malaysian Investors Mark Carney, governor of Bank of England (2013)
2014 You Janet Yellen, chairwoman, US Federal Reserve System (2014) Mark Carney, governor of Bank of England (2014)
2015 The next chancellor of the exchequer Brett White, Chairman, DTZ (2015) Edward Forst, chief executive and president C&W

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Michael Shields, managing director, ING Real Estate Finance

Buying or own a shiny trophy asset? Need a big chunk of debt to finance you? Your first phone call should be to Shields, who has been offering the best, most bullish and cheapest terms to the owners of the best assets on the market, including the Gherkin,
EC3, and the Heron Tower, EC2.

Roy March, chief executive, Eastdil

Californian March heads one of the most powerful but low-profile real estate investment banks, Eastdil Secured. Despite a laid back personal style, his hands-on approach to business has made Eastdil the broker of choice on major lending and investment deals in both the US and Europe.

Jon Gray, Global head of real estate, Blackstone

Without question, the world’s most-followed real estate investor. Having closed the world’s largest real estate fund – $15.8bn – last year, Gray and Blackstone have no shortage of firepower to make their mark. Now a billionaire, following the success of the company and the real estate division he heads, Gray is destined for the top job if chief executive Steve Schwarzmann steps aside.

Theresa May, home secretary

The woman in charge of UK immigration policy, May has the power to shape the UK both culturally and economically, and with it the demand for property. Stricter immigration controls could make the housing crisis less of an issue. But more houses, would mean demand slumps, along with house prices. The UK, and especially London, is a geopolitical melting pot. If the anti-immigration rhetoric gets too strong, those from overseas who make the UK their home could leave, taking their money, businesses and culture
with them.

Sadie Morgan, director, dRMM

When you are told that you should get to know someone because “they’ll be running the world one day” you sit up and take notice. Morgan could well be that woman. Founding director of architectural firm dRMM, design chair of HS2 and a member of Lord Adonis’s National Infrastructure Commission, Morgan has a starring role in the transformation of the UK.

Helen Gordon, chief executive, Grainger

The former global head of real estate asset management at Royal Bank of Scotland took up the role as chief executive of listed residential landlord Grainger in January this year. She is shifting the focus of the 104-year-old company away from regulated tenancies toward the burgeoning PRS, with a target to develop and buy £850m of PRS assets over the next four years.

John Clancy, leader, Birmingham City Council

He’s new to the job but Clancy is certainly one to watch. Birmingham is the largest local authority in Europe, with an annual spend of £3bn, and Clancy sees property investment as key to the city’s economic growth. On his radar are the council’s own property assets and he is also championing the so called ‘Brummie Bonds’ – the West Midlands Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Lou Jiwei, minister of finance, China

It used to be said that when the US coughs, the world catches flu. Nowadays, it is the vitality of China’s economic fortunes that has global investors on the edge of their seats. The efforts of Jiwei, the country’s outspoken finance minister and custodian of one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, to rein in mounting local government debt and help set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will no doubt be welcomed far beyond the country’s own borders.

Ali Al-Naimi, oil minister, Saudi Arabia

This man’s determination to maintain Saudi Arabia’s share of the global oil market by refusing to cut production was almost certainly a driving force behind the ongoing slump in oil price per barrel. But his influence can help swing the market the other way too. Saudi Arabia is among the major exporting countries that are backing a deal to halt increases in global output, leading some analysts to begin tentatively calling the bottom of the market.

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Mark Carney, governor, Bank of England

The length of Carney’s term as Bank of England governor may be uncertain, following hints from the Canadian that he might like to stay in the post for the full eight years despite initially insisting on just five. But what is not in doubt is the economic clout he wields as head of Britain’s central bank. Throughout his tenure, Carney has been dogged by the question of when rates will rise, something the governor has twice appeared to promise, only to find that circumstances have changed. But in the Bank’s latest forecast, he said “now is not the time” – an approach that will continue to be welcomed by the UK property sector.

Elaine Hewitt, chief executive, NHS Property Services

Hewitt took responsibility for 4,000 buildings belonging to the NHS, with an estimated value of £3bn, in February 2015. By October, NHS Property Services had made 150 disposals, netting £100m in capital proceeds. But with pressure to drive efficiencies and reduce costs, and every pound saved returned to the cash-strapped NHS, is there a risk that assets are sold for less than their market value in a bid for quick wins? No chance, says Hewitt. Given her impressive track record as group property director at BT, it is likely that NHS estates are in a safe pair of hands.

The next US president, Clinton v Trump?

The outcome of the 2016 US presidential election will not be decided until November but the power and influence of the next leader of the free world is certain. As the Republicans and Democrats hammer out exactly who will win the nomination to represent their parties in the race to the White House, the world watches on. At the time of printing, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was blazing a trail to lead the liberals while reality TV star/property tycoon Donald Trump continues to defy the odds with a rise in popularity, despite concerns over global instability. Who will best benefit the property world, political or industry experience? Americans, choose wisely. We are counting on you.

Tom Redmayne & William Newton, directors, WiredScore

Tom-Redmayne-and-William-NewtonIgnore these 20-something entrepreneurs at your peril. It is perfectly feasible that, before too long, it will be pretty tough to sell a building without their seal of approval. In a world where buyers – both domestic and overseas – know that a connected building is fast becoming essential for attracting occupiers, a WiredScore rating is the certification that everyone wants. Redmayne, 28, a former Cushman & Wakefield surveyor, and Newton, 29, once a policy adviser to  prime minister David Cameron, have been charged with expanding the ratings system in the UK following its initial success in New York. “Whatever happens to the market, digital connectivity is fundamental,” says Redmayne. “It’s not going away.”

John Burns, chief executive, Derwent London

It would not be the Power List without an appearance from the sage of Shoreditch. But this goes way beyond simply standing the test of time. A true innovator, Burns is the man who sets the trends people want to follow and develops the buildings people want to be in. And White Collar Factory in Old Street, EC1, will be no exception when it opens later this year. For years Burns, along with business partner Simon Silver, has been one step
ahead – delivering the right buildings for modern occupiers. And Derwent London remains the name on everyone’s lips.

Saul Klein, partner at venture capital fund, LocalGlobe

Part of the original executive team at Skype and founder and chief executive of LoveFilm, this is the venture capital investor you need to know. Previously a partner at Index Ventures, where he invested in early-stage internet companies, Klein set up LocalGlobe, a seed-focused VC firm in 2015. Having already established an appetite for investing in Proptech – he led a £1.1m investment in online mortgage advisor Trussle last month – Klein represents a cohort of new, ballsy investors with cash to splash. Embrace them.

Adam Neumann, chief executive, WeWork

If there is a company leading the charge when it comes to the future of workspaces, WeWork is it. And not just because it reported a £6.6bn valuation within five years of launching. The former New York start-up’s real power comes from steering workplace trends. Now, with more than 60 outposts worldwide and 400,000 sq ft of space in the UK, Neumann’s next move will have a knock-on effect across the office sector. From the smaller companies adopting similar models to the corporates feeling the pressure to keep up, the WeWork model shows no signs of losing its appeal.

Olivia, GCSE student, 16

Whether she joins Goldman Sachs, becomes a star coder or ends up founding one of the next tech unicorns (a company with a $1bn valuation), your future may lie in Olivia’s hands. Several years ago, the property industry woke up to the fact that it needed to develop buildings for the occupiers of the future – occupiers who may well not even be out of school yet. This has never been more important. As technology shapes future industries and workspaces at breakneck speed, the decision makers at some of the most coveted occupiers are likely to become younger and younger. And as the big corporates fight for the top talent with office space that will attract the best bright, young things, Olivia and chums have more power over this industry than they could even comprehend right now.

Edward Braham, global head of M&A, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Mergers and acquisitions are big news in the real estate industry, and to make them go smoothly, major players are going to want the very best advice. Braham, senior partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer, is ranked as an “eminent practitioner” in high-end M&A deals by Chambers and Partners, which describes him as a “class act”. Braham’s firm is also named as one of the leading firms in the market, noted for its influence and connections across Europe and worldwide. Braham’s many landmark deals include the competitive take-private of Debenhams through a scheme of arrangement, and advising Betfair Group on its merger with Paddy Power. Considering a merger or acquisition? Braham is the man you need to know.


EU-stars-BrexitIt may sound like a brand of breakfast cereal but this political portmanteau is popping up in every conversation across the property world. Within days of the prime minister announcing the long-expected date for the referendum, with the warning that “leaving Europe would threaten our economic and national security”, speculation about the effect on the industry from either outcome was rife.

The idea that inward investment would be affected by a British exit from the European Union was first off the blocks. This was followed by news that deals are already being delayed as a wait-and-see attitude starts to prevail.

On the one hand we have a bottom line statement from the world’s biggest fund manager, BlackRock, which says “a Brexit offers a lot of risk with little obvious reward”, and that an EU exit would lead to lower UK growth and investment as well as potentially higher unemployment and inflation.

Conversely, Brexit campaigner, outgoing London Mayor and MP for Uxbridge, Boris Johnson has said there is “no cause for concern”, highlighting the opportunity to get out from under the “encumbrance” and “constricting force” that is the EU.

Whatever your stance, there is little doubt that the uncertainty in the run up to the 23 June vote is making massive waves that investors and business leaders must navigate with care, just as it did in the weeks and months that preceded the Scotland referendum. But will it eventually seem like a storm in a teacup once the status quo resumes? Who knows?

Even if the hype fades, there can be little doubt that for the next 100 or so days, the most powerful influence in the UK property industry will be branded by Brexit.




Power List – March 2015


Power List  – March 2014


Power List – March 2013


Power List – March 2012


Power List – March 2011

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