J.E. Robert Cos. this week completed raising $823 million from about 40 investors for a new real estate investment fund.
The fund is the largest Joseph E. Robert Jr. has raised in his 23 years in the business. JER Real Estate Partners III, or Fund III, brought in most of the institutional investors from JER's Fund II, plus a group of new private equity investors.
Robert said the new fund will hew closely to the strategies that have made his investors money in the past: identifying commercial real estate assets across a range of property types that other investors have undervalued.
"We're trying to identify where the market, whether because of geography, market type or the flow of capital, has mispriced the risk," said Robert, chairman and chief executive, who formed his McLean company in 1981.
Deborah L. Harmon, president of J.E. Robert Cos., said the new fund has already made several deals, including a $32 million investment in Republic Square, an office complex being developed on Capitol Hill, and a hotel in Los Angeles. She said the fund's strategy will be to buy smaller individual properties, instead of purchasing large diversified portfolios from other investors, which the company commonly did in the past.
J.E. Robert Cos. made a national name for itself in the 1980s when it took over management of large portfolios of bad real estate loans and other assets from the government in the savings and loan bailout.
In the late 1990s, the company began raising money from a broader group of institutional investors -- endowments, pension funds, banks and wealthy people -- to make investments in a variety of assets, including hotels, office buildings and securities backed by commercial mortgages.
The company manages more than $2.2 billion for investors in three institutional equity funds and a real estate investment trust it formed earlier this year. That REIT, known as JER Investors Trust, raised about $160 million in a June private stock placement and could become a publicly traded REIT, according to the prospectus.
Robert is among the lead partners in Washington Baseball Club LLC, a group seeking to buy the Expos franchise from Major League Baseball, which is moving the team to Washington from Montreal next season.