Starwood Capital appoints India head

Starwood Capital Group, the global real estate investor, has recruited Balaji Rao, a local property veteran, to spearhead its new operations in India.

Starwood Capital Group, a global real estate investor based in Connecticut, has named Balaji Rao, the former managing director of TCG Urban Infrastructure Holdings, to head up a new office in India.

TCG Urban Infrastructure is the real estate division of The Chatterjee Group, a private investment company founded by Indian entrepreneur Purnendu Chatterjee.

Rao had been with TCG since 2001 and built assets across India’s six largest metropolitan regions, according to a statement.

At Starwood, Rao will report directly to chairman and chief executive officer Barry Sternlicht.

Commenting on the appointment, Sternlicht said in the statement that Starwood had been looking to enter India for a number of years. He said: “Recent regulatory changes combined with the soaring demand for both residential and commercial property space there present a great opportunity for Starwoord and its investors.”

Prior to TCG, Rao was head of property in India at Anz Grinlays Bank, as Head of Property in India. Before that, he headed Standard Chartered Bank’s mortgages and business financial services division in India.

Starwood, which was founded in 1991, is an opportunity fund investing in residential lots, multifamily and condominium units, hotels, offices, retail and industrial spaces as well as golf and leisure-related properties. The firm has offices in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington D.C.,
London, Luxembourg and Tokyo.

In 2005, the firm closed the $1.475 billion Global Opportunity Fund VII, and the $900 million Starwood Hospitality Fund I.

Starwood’s investments in Asia to date include five office buildings, an industrial building complex and two hotel properties in Japan. It has also invested in Sansiri, a troubled real estate company in Bangkok, whose portfolio it has since liquidated.