Joe Scoby Saved UBS. Now He's Buying Chicago Real Estate
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Achievement Asset Management CEO Joe Scoby steered UBS through the 2008 fiscal meltdown. Now he's putting skin in the real estate game, JV'ing with Conlon Commercial founder Sean Conlon, with three closed deals (including one announced today) and $100M more in the pipeline.
Joe has advised Conlon Commercial on acquisitions for a decade and ran a $100M mezz fund with Sean that held its own, returning investments to its partners during the recession. Joe's relationship with Sean (they're pictured together here) was important to bringing him into active investment. The two first met in 2003 at a wine tasting dinner with former Mayor Richard Daley and later went on advisory trips to Cuba, St. Tropez, London and Moscow. Joe says the experience he gained from his time at UBS made an ideal counter to Sean's high-risk threshold. "Sean is more offensive minded while I bring defense to the table." Joe says he reminds Sean all the time about identifying all the risks involved in a deal before moving forward. Sean adds that it's Joe's job to talk him down, but when Joe gets involved in a deal, Sean knows it's good. That balance will help them as they work through the $100M in acquisition opportunities they've targeted.
The deals so far: The JV acquired the former SushiSamba Rio space at 504 N Wells for $6M in January, the current home to Rainforest Café at 605 N Clark for $14M last month, and just announced a $6.55M deal for a four-story, 52k SF building at 401 W Ontario that will become Conlon's new HQ. Joe says the Rainforest Café deal was a no-brainer. It was low risk with a national tenant locked into a long-term lease and a decent cap rate. The space is in a prime location that offers several possibilities down the road, including redevelopment. Joe tells us he’s always had money in various funds but is excited by the flexibility of using your own capital, including deal types, location and the length of time a deal needs to blossom.
Joe (right, with GEM Realty Advisors’ Michael Elrad) is best known for running UBS’s alternative funds services, which were worth $65B and had $10B in assets at its peak in October 2007. That's when Joe joined UBS's executive board, was named the group's risk officer, and was told to reduce a balance sheet of two and a half trillion Swiss Francs (nearly $2.6T in US dollars). Joe navigated UBS through the fiscal crisis, reduced the balance sheet to one trillion Swiss Francs and put the company back on firm footing by rewriting all of its governance, initiating compensation to better align employees with shareholders as well as holding employees accountable for taking undue risk, and simplifying UBS's risk methodologies.
Away from the office, Joe (shown with Metropolitan Family Services CEO Ric Estrada) volunteers at Erie Neighborhood House, a 145-year-old West Side community center that provides education and housing services to immigrant communities. One of Joe's dreams is to open a community center for teen moms to gain parenting skills and develop personally. A Wharton grad, Joe serves on the school's board of directors. Another dream of Joe's is to produce a cartoon movie. He says cartoons offer unlimited character development and allow for satirizing public figures with impunity. He also likes to write humor in his spare time and says humor connects people; he calls it "music of the soul." He married his wife, Jeanne, at 18 and they live in Glenview with their four children.