I was delighted to discover this week that joining me in celebrating more than 20 years of continuous service at one company is John Carrafiell.
While I have no immediate plans to leave this magazine, rumours are starting to circulate in the upper echelons of the property market that Carrafiell might be leaving Morgan Stanley, where he is currently joint global head, with Sonny Kalsi, of real estate investing.
Some senior people are suggesting Carrafiell might be in line to take over as chief executive of British Land, the most prestigious job on offer in the UK property market.
The rumours appear to have begun because, after 20 years, a senior Morgan Stanley employee’s stock options and carried interests fully vest. So Carrafiell no longer has any financial reason to stay at the bank. While he could stay at the bank in his present role, or perhaps in a different one, the prospect of starting afresh to enjoy probably the best buying opportunity ever in the UK property market could prove enticing.
If he does decide to leave, he will have no shortage of job offers or equity backers after a stellar 20-year career at the bank. He joined Morgan Stanley’s New York office in 1987, moved to the London office in 1989 and initiated the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds’ European investment programme in 1994 as director of acquisitions for Europe. He became head of the European real estate group in 1995.
Nine years later came the pinnacle of his career when, after an 11-month battle, he succeeded as head of the bank’s consortium in taking over Canary Wharf Group. At £1.7bn, the deal was the biggest in UK property history.
His reward was to become global co-head of Morgan Stanley Real Estate before an overhaul at the start of 2007 led to him being made global co-head of real estate investing – one of the real estate group’s three divisions alongside investment banking and lending.
While Morgan Stanley will undoubtedly have suffered in the downturn from deals made at the height of the market, it is waiting in the wings with billions of cash to take advantage of the distress. In the summer of 2007 it completed fundraising for the world’s largest-ever property fund – MSREF VI International raised $8bn (£5.4bn) of equity – and in April this year it raised an additional $2.5bn (£1.7bn) of equity for its Special Situations Fund III. This latter fund makes non-controlling investments in property companies in emerging, developed and distressed markets around the world.
The 20-year point of Carrafiell’s Morgan Stanley career has come at an opportune time. Whether he stays or leaves, he will be able to take advantage of an extraordinary buying opportunity, probably starting in the middle of next year.
James Whitmore is deputy editor of Property Week