Rush Desai is adding some senior talent to his team at Varsity Group Asia Pacific in Singapore, with the company announcing late last week that it has hired former MSCI executive Varun Malik as director of business development.
“Varun will play a pivotal role in growing our business, working alongside me on business strategy, product development, and investor relations”, said Desai, who has served as chief executive of the fund management spin-off of Australian student housing specialist Varsity Group since co-founding the company earlier this year.
When he starts into his new role on 1 July, Malik will be overseeing all aspects of business development for Varsity Group Asia Pacific (VGAP) and will report directly to Desai.
Together with partners, Stephen Gaitanos and Craig Carracher, the co-founders of rental housing developer Scape Australia, Desai had first announced VGAP in February, with the firm focusing on high growth alternative real estate sectors across the region.
Finance Industry Veteran
Malik has signed up with VGAP after more than three years with MSCI, where he was head of the real assets division of the market information provider. In that role Malik was involved in MSCI’s $950 million acquisition of Real Capital Analytics and developed two new private asset indices focused on Asia Pacific.
Before joining MSCI in 2020, Malik was head of real estate sector coverage and acquisition finance for Asia (excluding Japan) at MUFG and previously spent more than 12 years with Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore and South Africa.
The veteran finance executive has business degrees from Singapore Management University and from Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge.
Desai established Varsity Group Asia Pacific with the team from Scape after spending nearly six years as chief executive of the regional business of Allianz Real Estate (now PIMCO Prime Real Estate).
Geographically, VGAP targets high growth sectors across the region, but is understood to see opportunities to create branded rental housing platforms in Japan, serving sectors including students, seniors and mainstream tenants. The investment firm is also targeting deals in India, China and Southeast Asia.
Company representatives had said during the first quarter that VGAP expects to begin fund raising over the summer, with the potential to formally launch a fund late this year or earlier in 2024.