Logistics real estate platform ESR’s Charles de Portes will step down as group president in January 2021 to pursue philanthropic interests, one of several management changes announced late last week by the Warburg Pincus-backed firm.
Now 50, De Portes co-founded the Redwood Group in Japan in 2006 before it eventually merged with Shanghai-based e-Shang to form ESR in 2016. Earlier in his career, he was the head of acquisitions and capital for US logistics giant Prologis’ Asia and European operations before founding Tokyo-based AMB BlackPine alongside Stuart Gibson in 2003. That company later became part of Prologis when it merged with AMB in 2011.
The remaining ESR pioneers, Redwood co-founder Stuart Gibson and e-Shang co-founder Jeffrey Shen, will continue in their current roles as joint CEOs.
Shed Veteran Leaves the Stage
“I am extremely proud of the team and the incredible company that we have built at ESR and its predecessor firms over the last 15 years,” De Portes said. “After 20 years in logistics real estate in Asia, and prior to that in Europe, I have decided that at the end of this year is the right time to transition to a non-executive board member.”
After leaving his executive role with the company, de Portes will assume the role of chairman emeritus of ESR’s capital committee according to a company press release, while remaining a key shareholder in the company.
The management changes come soon after some of ESR’s largest shareholders sold down their stakes in the warehouse giant last month.
On 21 July, ESR announced to the Hong Kong stock exchange that WP OCIM One an investment vehicle controlled by private equity giant Warburg Pincus sold a 7 percent stake in the logistics platform to Canadian pension fund OMERS, which also served as a cornerstone investor for the group’s Hong Kong IPO late last year.
Earlier in July, WP OCIM One and other shareholders were reported to have sold a separate 4.1 percent slice of ESR.
New Leadership Named
As de Portes relinquishes his day-to-day role, ESR senior managing director Josh Daitch has been picked to lead ESR’s capital raising and fund management division, after helping to establish and manage the group’s investment vehicles over the past two years.
As of 31 December last year, ESR had properties and other assets under management with a fair value of approximately $22.1 billion. During the first half of this year, the company has ramped up its capital management business including closing on a $692 million Australian joint venture with Singapore’s GIC in June and a $1 billion Korean joint venture with Canada’s CPPIB and the Netherlands’ APG during the same month.
Before joining ESR in 2018, Daitch was based in Chicago as a managing partner of real estate investment firm SAJE Capital.
At the same that Daitch takes on his new responsibilities, Lilian Lee has joined ESR as chief corporate officer to oversee human resources and group administration. Lee has signed up with the firm after a decade-long stint with Singaporean real estate developer Mapletree Investments where she served as general manager of human resources and a senior vice president of the Temasek-back company’s learning and development division.
Thomas Nam and Philip Pearce, the CEOs of ESR local operations in South Korea and Australia respectively, will also join the group investment committee which evaluates new transactions in ESR’s markets.
“The entrepreneurial spirit that created ESR will continue to drive our future growth,” joint CEOs Gibson and Shen said in a statement. “In this respect, we are thrilled to have executive talent of the calibre of Josh, Lilian, Thomas and Phil to take on their new roles to join us in leading ESR through its next phase of exciting development.”
The Hong Kong-based warehouse developer and fund manager counts itself as the largest real estate group in APAC with gross floor area exceeding 17 million square meters and has received backing from a range of global pension funds and investment groups including Goldman Sachs, Ping An and APG.