Russell Investments is establishing a capacity for analysing real-estate investment managers for its global manager-of-managers practice. It has hired Martin Lamb as head of property for Asia-Pacific in Singapore. It is a new position designed to fast-track RussellÆs ambitions in this sector.

Lamb has over 20 years of property experience. Most of his career has been spent in the United States working for closed-end funds investing in real estate and private equity, including at The OÆConnor Group and Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds (Mesref), the latter job including a stint in London.

Then at AIG Global Real Estate Group he ran a brownfield (environmental clean-up) fund, but that role ended when AIG ran into accounting problems and had to cut funding to riskier investments on its balance sheets. (The fund had not yet been marketed to investors.)

Casting about for a new role, he moved to China via old friends, serving as senior vice-president at Gerrity International, a JV between developer Gerrity, Morgan Stanley and Shenzhen ITIC, to develop hypermarkets in second- and third-tier cities. Lamb set up the Shanghai office, oversaw project development and design, and ultimately hired his local replacement.

With that success under his belt, he decided he wanted to remain in Asia. ôWhen it comes to real estate, this is the interesting part of the world,ö he says.

Hence the Russell job, to which Lamb brings an experienced perspective. ôItÆs like IÆve spent my career in the kitchen but now IÆm a restaurant critic. I know how the sausage is made, I know a lot of the other chefs.ö

That will help him æcritiqueÆ the regionÆs budding universe of property investors and at some point allow Russell to develop an Asia-Pacific multi-manager product for real estate. If so, Lamb would likely serve as portfolio manager. ôIÆm here to get a handle on country and regional funds,ö he says. ôClients in Europe and the US are looking for Asia exposure, and we have regional clients, particularly from Japan and Australia, that are also interested.ö

Russell already covers real-estate managers in Australia, Japan and India, but so far research is done from the US or Europe. Having Lamb on the ground in Singapore will allow both deeper and wider research for the region. He reports to Bruce Pflaum, RussellÆs managing director for Asia, also based in Singapore.