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(Bloomberg) -- The Swiss private bank and asset manager owned by billionaire Joseph Safra has hired Michael Montebaur from Joh. Berenberg Gossler & Co. to help create a real estate fund for wealthy investors, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The new fund, run by J. Safra Sarasin Holding Ltd.’s European asset management unit, will buy commercial properties in major international cities including London, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Montebaur was appointed as an investment director at the unit, they said.

The real estate veteran spent 15 years at Union Investment, leading the German fund manager’s international-property business and sitting on its management board before he left in 2009. He joined Berenberg in 2014 after five years running his own business, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Spokesmen for J. Safra Sarasin and Berenberg declined to comment.

Global investor allocations to real estate have grown steadily over the past five years as rising rents and values have offered attractive returns compared with stocks and bonds. Institutions will aim to hold about 10.3 percent of their portfolios in property this year compared to 8.9 percent in 2013, according to research by Cornell University and Hodes Weill & Associates LP published in October.

Brazilian banking magnate Joseph Safra has separately built a property portfolio that includes London’s Gherkin office tower and 660 Madison Avenue in New York. The family’s global spending spree has attracted interest from other high-net-worth individuals seeking to co-invest in commercial real estate, the people said.

Safra purchased the Gherkin in 2014 and has since been approached by investors seeking to buy stakes in the building, the people said. The Gherkin is a unique real estate asset and isn’t for sale, a spokesman for J. Safra Real Estate, the company that owns the Gherkin, said in an email.

Safra has a $16.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Sidders in London at jsidders@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Neil Callanan at ncallanan@bloomberg.net, Andrew Blackman

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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