Shanghai-based co-working operator naked Hub has hired commercial real estate veteran Paul Mills as Head of Expansion for its fast-growing business, the company revealed to Mingtiandi. Based in the startup’s Shanghai headquarters from last week, Mills leads the global expansion team as naked Hub builds out its flexible office network in Asia Pacific and Europe.
“Our business is growing extremely quickly and we’re looking for opportunities globally,” naked Hub CEO Jonathan Seliger told Mingtiandi. “So we thought it was long overdue to bring someone on board who has real regional if not global real estate and transactional experience.”
Reporting to Seliger, Mills leads a team that currently numbers 10 people, including Frank Wang, head of expansion for China; Paul Ogden, director of expansion for Hong Kong and Southeast Asia; and Andrew Cho, associate director of expansion, who now report directly to Mills.
The expansion team is tasked with business development and real estate functions, focussing on growing naked Hub’s footprint through property transactions. The two-year-old company has a platform of about 50 co-working locations open or under development across Asia Pacific — primarily mainland China — and, most recently, London, where naked Hub is targetting the launch of a new venue in July.
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Mills brings an extensive track record of deal-making across the globe to the new role. He previously worked in Dubai as Development Director at commercial and industrial builder Gulf Resources Development and Investment, leading project development in the United Arab Emirates, Asia and the US.
Prior to that, Mills served as Asia Pacific Head of Transactions for Citi in Hong Kong, where he oversaw a team that notched over 550 deals per year in various asset classes across the region. The University of Sheffield graduate has also worked on the broker side, as Director of Client Solutions APAC at real estate consultancy Cushman & Wakefield.
“I took the job here because I can see that co-working is really part of the permanent fixture and the future landscape of real estate,” Mills commented to Mingtiandi. “Real estate’s a very traditional game, it’s a very illiquid asset class. And I think that co-working makes it much more liquid, much more flexible. And I think it’s something that’s really going to be of huge interest to all sorts of different occupiers going forward. I really do believe that.”
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The senior hire comes after naked Hub’s parent company, naked Group, appointed former Gaw Capital executive Jennifer Zhang as Head of Investment, as Mingtiandi reported earlier this month. Zhang’s mandate is to set up a new investment platform targetting commercial buildings and resort properties, while also supporting the firm’s expansion through mergers and acquisitions. naked made its first foray into Australia in January by acquiring a majority stake in Aussie co-working operator Gravity.
“With Jennifer joining and now with Paul, this is representative of how seriously we’re taking this market, by bringing the right talent in at the right time to help us grow – either organically through doing deals on buildings and properties around the region, or through acquisition,” Seliger said.
Outside of Asia Pacific, naked Hub is focussing its attention on building a team in London for its upcoming centre at the Gaw Capital-owned 123 Buckingham Palace Road. “But we are being contacted constantly by potential partners across the world who are interested to work with us, Seliger said. “So if the right opportunity presents itself, then we’ll consider it.”
“We are studying a couple of options in the east coast of the US,” he added.
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