New York's EII Capital Management has shut its three overseas offices – in Singapore, London and Munich – following heavy client outflows in recent years, sources have told AsianInvestor.

The real estate investment firm finalised the closures last month, laying off around 14 investment staff in the process, said people familiar with the situation. They added that clients and staff, including three in London and four in Singapore, had been notified earlier this year.

EII, a specialist in property securities, has removed the details of its overseas branches from its website. Senior executives at the firm did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Staff departures

Executives believed to have left include London-based Roberto Versace, lead portfolio manager of Asian equities; Singapore-based portfolio manager Michael Wong; Andrew Cox, London-based head of the European equities team; and Paul Pulze, a portfolio manager for European equities, also based in London.

According to their LinkedIn pages, Versace exited EII in February, having joined in March 2015, while Cox and Pulze moved on in June after joining in September and November 2014, respectively. Wong had been with EII since July 2012.

The company, which had around $10 billion under management at its peak, said one source, has retained staff at its New York headquarters.

EII now lists 12 individuals as being employed at the firm, including Christian Lange, CEO, chairman and co-founder; Richard Adler, senior adviser and co-founder; Robert Lange, president and chief operating officer; and Stuart Mackintosh and Scott Prizer, both managing directors of direct real estate.

Tough times

The firm's cutbacks come at a difficult time for the active asset management industry. Returns have been hard to come by for several years, and passive investment strategies have benefited from big flows. 

Moreover, EII had seen several key investment executives depart in 2014. Among them were James Rehlaender, who had been responsible for all non-US investments at EII, and Peter Nieuwland, formerly senior analyst and co-portfolio manager for Europe.

Rehlaender and Nieuwland moved on after 14 years with EII to set up a new firm, Northwood Securities. Their exit reportedly prompted several US pension funds to drop EII as their global real estate investment trust (Reit) manager.

Several other international asset and wealth managers have retrenched in Asia since late last year. UK-based BlueBay Asset Management shut its Hong Kong office in December, while Edmond de Rothschild and Syz Asset Management both closed their regional operations in late 2016. And investment consultancy Mercer has removed a management layer in the region. 

EII's background

EII was founded in 1983 as a European family office adviser for the purpose of investing foreign capital in the US across asset classes, according to its website. The co-founders had previously worked together at Goldman Sachs for 10 years.

EII’s original mandates included equity, fixed income and private real estate investments for European families. In 1987 it developed a portfolio management service specifically for securitised real estate assets.

The firm received its first US Reit mandate from a European family in 1987 and began managing real estate securities portfolios for US institutions in 1993. In 2000, EII expanded its team and product offerings globally to include European and Asian real estate securities management.