September 13, 2018 / 1:21 PM / a year ago

Jones Lang LaSalle names Americas CEO of hotels, hospitality group

(Reuters) - Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, a leading worldwide real estate firm, said on Thursday it has appointed a new chief executive officer for its Americas hotels group at a time investment in the industry is highly global and the investor base is changing.

Gilda Perez-Alvarado was named CEO of the firm’s hotels and hospitality division, responsible for asset sales, debt and equity placement, asset management and advisory services, in a transition period ending Sept. 1, 2019.

The 14-year company veteran will oversee more than 100 employees, and transition into the job over the next year alongside Mark Wynne Smith, currently JLL’s CEO for the hospitality group globally.

New York-based Perez-Alvarado will continue to run the JLL unit that oversees cross-border investment in hotels around the world.

Perez-Alvarado, a Costa Rican native who has also worked for JLL in Madrid, London and Miami, recently led the company’s international effort to sell New York’s Plaza Hotel and the St. Regis in San Francisco, among other trophy assets.

JLL wants more collaboration among its marketing and sales teams worldwide as the hotel industry draws more nontraditional investors and generalists, Perez-Alvarado said in an interview.

“We probably have the most diverse and widest group of investors we’ve ever seen, and that includes generalists and, call it, ‘niche hospitality investors,’” she said.

While capital has been abundant, the number of deals has slowed because few hotels have been put up for sale, she said. Many investors are refinancing and holding onto their assets, taking advantage of highly liquid debt markets, Perez-Alvarado said.

“We’ve had the most capital globally chasing deals right now than at any other time in the (business) cycle, but there’s a dearth of product,” she said.

“If an investor sells, they’re going to have a hard time investing those proceeds, but debt capital markets are so frothy and robust that you might as well refinance,” she said.

Senior Managing Directors Jeffrey Davis and John Strauss were promoted to co-lead the Americas hotel capital markets group, also effective immediately.

JLL’s global hotels and hospitality group has completed more transactions than any other similar real estate adviser over the last five years, with deals totaling more than $71 billion worldwide, the company said.

(In second paragraph, JLL corrects to say Perez-Alvarado was named CEO, not interim CEO; in third paragraph, JLL corrects to remove reference that Perez-Alvarado will be a deputy CEO)

Reporting by Herbert Lash in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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