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Former Nuveen COO Launching Private Real Estate Arm For Dream Unlimited

CohnReznick partner Ronald Kaplan, Hidrock Properties CEO Abie Hidary, and Rahul Idnani, then Nuveen Real Estate's managing director, speaking at a Bisnow event in 2019.

Dream Unlimited, a publicly traded Canadian real estate company with $9B worth of assets has brought on the former global chief operating officer of Nuveen to launch a new private real estate business.

Rahul Idnani, who served as Nuveen's global COO until March, told Bisnow this week he has been named president of Dream Equity Partners, which will officially launch Tuesday.

The new platform will be an asset management business for private real estate clients, and it is the first time the Toronto-based public company has created a dedicated, private real estate platform. It will take investments from pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and family offices, Idnani said.

“This is an opportunity to build something new with a very strong investment and operating platform,” he said in an interview Monday.

Dream, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has $9B worth of assets across North America and Europe. It specializes in residential and retail development, asset management and management services, renewable energy infrastructure and CRE ownership. It is Canada’s largest residential developer, according to its website, and has three TSX-listed funds.

Late last year, it sold Dream Global, a European REIT focused on industrial and office assets, to Blackstone for $4.7B. 

Idnani’s move was in the works well before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but he said the crisis will shape the types of assets his platform will seek out. Dream Equity Partners will target multifamily and industrial assets in the United States. In Canada, it will specifically look at impact investing and in Europe it will be looking to put money into office and logistic investments.

Dream’s American investments have largely been in the Midwest and Sun Belt, he said, and the targets for this new venture are now being refined.

“I think, like everybody, we have been very cautious and we looked at deals a few months ago, but we have pressed the pause button,” he said.

Idnani said industrial and multifamily assets will likely be the most attractive real estate investment over the next few years. In the next few quarters, he expects there will be distress in the market, which will present opportunities.

“We don’t see it today, but we believe in the aftermath of COVID you will have many owners of real estate reducing their exposure or looking to sell assets due to liquidity and portfolio management reasons,” he said. “We expect to see forced or distressed sellers in the coming quarters [and] that we will be able to act on core or core-plus assets as a result.”

At Nuveen, Idnani managed a $90B real estate portfolio. He had been at the company since 2016. He was previously at TIAA, which acquired Nuveen in 2014 and folded its commercial real estate investment branch under Nuveen's brand.

Dream President of Asset Management Jane Gavan will serve as executive chair of Dream Equity Partners and will oversee the new business, according to a statement from the company.

“We believe that globally the allocation of capital to real estate will continue to grow,” she said in a statement. “Our unique track record, operating platform and core strengths, positions us well to attract investors, especially given the successful sale of Dream Global in late 2019, our track record of developing large scale innovative mixed-use projects and our asset management of our public vehicles.”