In a major hiring coup, Goldman Sachs has taken a team of five from UBSÆs highly regarded real estate group. The team is led by Michael Smith.

Smith will become Goldman Sachs head of real estate investment banking and joins as a managing director. He was previously head of real estate at UBS and has been a specialist in this sector for 15 years. He will be based in Singapore.

A second senior banker in the poached UBS team is Vincent Peng, who also has 15 years experience in the real estate sector. He will be based in Hong Kong, and was formerly the Asian head of the corporate investment group for GIC of SingaporeÆs real estate business.

Also to be based in Singapore, Peter Best joins Goldman from UBS in Sydney. Prior to that he was the head of Colonial First State PropertyÆs strategic opportunities group.
The UBS team will also be accompanied by an analyst and associate, bringing the number of UBS defections to five.

The move marks a major push by Goldman into real estate investment banking, an area that has started to boom in the past year. Indeed, it is expected that in the next 12-18 months there will be between 15-40 REIT IPOs in the region.

On top of this, there are set to be follow-on offerings in the real estate sector, making this one of the fastest growing areas in the equity capital markets. That fact alone makes the loss of the real estate investment banking team û and especially the strong relationships fostered by Smith û a major blow for the ECM team at UBS, and its hopes of (finally) finishing top of the Asian ECM league table.

As the year opens, UBS sits fourth in the Dealogic ECM league table with $1.02 billion of issuance, trailing Goldman which tops the table with $2.42 billion.

Goldman is rumoured to be also looking to make hires to increase the size of its real estate equity research team.