Starwood Capital has announced the appointment of Balaji Rao to mark its entry into IndiaÆs property market. Rao will report to Barry Sternlicht, StarwoodÆs Chairman and CEO. Rao joins from TCG Urban Infrastructure Holdings, the real estate division of the Chatterjee Group where he held the position of Managing Director.

Sternlicht comments: ôWe have been targeting India as an important investment market for our firm. It was important for us to find a veteran investor to oversee our efforts in this exciting but surely complex market. BalajiÆs diversified 22 year career in India, along with his proven track record for building value for investors, makes him a rare and uniquely qualified executive to lead our efforts there.ö

Rao added: ôI have spent my career identifying and capitalising on real estate opportunities, even in sometimes difficult markets. Now, with foreign investment opportunities and return rates both on the rise, the time is clearly right to help build Starwood into one of IndiaÆs premier property investors.ö

Rao moved to TCG Group in 2001 and in the last five years has helped develop eight commercial real estate projects in five Indian cities. Prior to joining TCG Rao was head of property for India at ANZ Grindlays where he also oversaw the bankÆs property portfolio. Rao moved to Grindlays from Standard Chartered Bank where he oversaw the mortgages and business financial services division.

During the past fifteen years Starwood and its affiliates have invested approx $5.8 billion of equity capital in transactions totalling more than $15.9 billion. Starwood was in the news recently for the acquisition of Groupe Taittinger of France.