Mitsui Fudosan America Brings in New CEO

Mitsui Fudosan America Inc. has found a new boss.
John Westerfield, Mitsui Fudosan America

John Westerfield, Mitsui Fudosan America

Mitsui Fudosan America Inc. has found a new CEO. The real estate investment and development company has tapped John Westerfield, formerly of Morgan Stanley, to take on the position. Effective April 1, he succeeds Yukio Yoshida, who had served as president & CEO since 2011.

Westerfield is no stranger to MFA. He has had a relationship with the company for roughly three decades, and for the last four years he’s been a senior advisor to the board of directors.

“He knows and understands the company and its strategy in the U.S.,” an MFA spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive. “John is a highly experienced and knowledgeable real estate executive and uniquely qualified to manage the expanding MFA portfolio.”

Westerfield comes to MFA with a wealth of experience in the real estate industry. He began his career in Morgan Stanley’s real estate investment banking group fresh out of business school in 1985, and rose to the position of managing director before going out on his own with the launching of his private real estate firm in 2008.

“His background running the global commercial real estate finance group at Morgan Stanley for many years provides invaluable experience to help guide MFA,” the spokesperson added.

MFA’s growth strategy calls for strong leadership. The company, the U.S. subsidiary of Tokyo’s Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd., has been ramping up its activities over the last three years. During that time it has invested more than $2 billion in office and residential development endeavors in key markets on both coasts, specifically in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Seattle. MFA won’t disclose specifics about the amount it plans to invest in the U.S. in 2015; however, the spokesperson remarked that the company “continues to expect to add to the portfolio as we identify the right opportunities and partners to create value for our tenants and stakeholders.” Westerfield will have his hands full, focusing on implementing the current MFA strategy, as well as advancing Mitsui Fudosan Group’s core initiatives.

Kaoru Yamaoka Mitsui Fudosan America

Kaoru Yamaoka, Mitsui Fudosan America

But Westerfield won’t bear the burden at the top alone, as did his predecessor, Yoshida, who is making his way back to Tokyo to take on the role of general manager of Mitsui Fudosan’s Office Building Development Department. Westerfield will serve solely as CEO, while Kaoru Yamaoka, senior vice president of corporate planning, will step into the position of president. The spokesperson noted that MFA decided to split titles to address the continued growth of its U.S. portfolio.

Indeed, MFA, which established a footprint in the U.S. in the 1970s, has been quite active in expanding its presence here. Activities over the last six months include the September 2014 opening of 1200 Seventeenth St., a 170,000-square-foot office tower in Washington, D.C., developed in a joint venture with Akridge. Earlier this year, the company announced it would take part in the development of two apartment projects in Seattle and San Francisco–tentatively named 2nd & Pike and 650 Indiana, respectively–adding 450 units to its portfolio. And in one of its most high-profile moves, MFA acquired a majority stake in Fifty Five Hudson Yards, a 1.2 million-square-foot office high-rise within the 28-acre, $20 billion Hudson Yards mixed-use development in New York City, partnering with Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group on the full capitalization of the office building, which is now under construction.