Saito to Continue Mitsui Fudosan’s U.S. Expansion as New CEO

Hiroki Saito, who played a key role in establishing Japan’s first REIT as an executive with Mitsui Fudosan Co., has been named CEO of Mitsui Fudosan America as the subsidiary continues with its expansion efforts in the United States. Saito, with more than 20 years of commercial real estate leasing and investment experience, takes over from Kosei Murakamo, who has been promoted to head of international operations at corporate headquarters in Japan. Saito (pictured) relocates from Tokyo to the company’s U.S. headquarters at 1251 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan. His most recent position with the company was serving as executive manager of the finance department with responsibility for the debt and equity management for the entire Mitsui Fudosan Group. While in Tokyo, his most notable achievement was developing the 77-acre, mixed-use Shiodome project with capital provided by Sovereign wealth funds. He also worked with pension funds to help establish the first REIT in Japan. It now has 60 properties and is capitalized at $7 billion. That experience will come in handy as MFA prepares to launch a U.S. investment fund. Saito was in Japan and not available for an interview today, but the MFA Web site notes that, “It is the ultimate goal of MFA to create a series of funds for its investor clients, each fund comprising a pool of specific assets.” In a statement released by MFA, Saito thanked Murakami for “orchestrating a successful return to U.S. commercial real estate investment markets.” He noted that MFA had executed several strategic acquisitions in target markets including Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. One of the most recent acquisitions came at the end of last year, when MFA bought 100 William St., a 21-story, 400,000-square-foot, Class A office tower in Downtown Manhattan for a reported $180 million from a partnership led by Lighthouse Real Estate Ventures, Inc., according to a Dec. 10, 2007, CPN report. In the two years since it announced its U.S. expansion plans, MFA has also acquired a 300,000-foot-Class A office building in San Francisco’s Financial District and a stake in a $150 million, 300,000-square-foot office building being developed at 700 Sixth St. in Washington, D.C. Over the years, MFA has also made investments in Hawaii, Chicago and San Diego.