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TIAA-CREF to create global real assets division

by Andrea Waitrovich

TIAA-CREF Asset Management announced plans to form a new business unit focused exclusively on expanding its capabilities in real assets. The new division will include the firm’s global real estate, agriculture, timber, infrastructure and energy teams, as well as its subsidiaries TH Real Estate, Westchester Group Investment Management, GreenWood Resources and Churchill Asset Management. The division will operate as a stand-alone business unit within TIAA-CREF’s global asset management business.

“Institutional investors worldwide are increasingly turning to real assets as part of a broader focus on alternative investments, which can provide a source of uncorrelated returns,” said Rob Leary, CEO, asset management, in a statement.

TIAA-CREF currently manages approximately $100 billion in real assets, as of Dec. 31, 2015. The new business will further leverage the firm’s capabilities by aligning affiliates, business teams and strategy in support of the division’s continued growth.

Jose Minaya, who currently serves as head of private markets asset management, will serve as president. Heather Davis, CIO of TIAA-CREF’s private markets group, will be the CIO of the new division. And John MacCarthy, who has served as Nuveen Investments’ chief legal officer, will serve as the unit’s COO.

Minaya commented: “This model will allow us to more effectively develop all aspects of our real assets business, so we can best leverage our distinct expertise in this space and better serve our investors, which have grown beyond our retirement base to include sovereign wealth fund, pension fund and insurance company clients. These changes will enable us to take a more nimble approach for our business and accelerate our speed-to-market with transactions and products. Importantly, they will not impact our affiliates’ portfolio management activities, products or the integrity of our investment approach.”

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