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Schroders hires fund manager for real estate impact strategies

The new hire will lead the firm’s investments in the space, including an expansion from the UK to continental Europe later this year.

Schroders Capital, the private assets business of UK investment manager Schroders, has hired Chris Santer as fund manager for real estate impact investment strategies after closing on a social housing fund last year, affiliate title PERE has learned.

Santer will be responsible for investments that aim to have a measurable positive social and environmental impact while generating strong financial returns. His initial investment focus will be on tackling social inequality in areas defined as deprived by the UK government. Deprivation encompasses seven categories, including income; employment; education, skills and training; health and disability; crime; barriers to housing and services; and living environment, according to the UK government website.

The real estate team will use an impact measurement and management investment framework developed in-house with BlueOrchard, Schroders’ Zurich-based impact investment subsidiary. Santer will be part of Schroders’ UK real estate team and report to Nick Montgomery, the firm’s head of UK real estate investment.

According to company growth projections, Schro­ders’ real estate business, which had £20.2 billion ($24.9 billion; €23.5 billion) in AUM as of March 31, is expected to reach £32 billion in AUM by 2025. Impact; solutions, or customised portfoli­os; and debt, are key anticipated driv­ers of that growth. All three were strategies that Schroders did not have just two years ago.

Schroders declined to comment, but PERE understands the firm plans to launch a diversified UK-fo­cused impact fund this summer and aims to expand the social impact strategy to continental Europe – an effort that will be led by Santer – later in the year.

Schroders’ initial foray into impact was with its Social Support­ed Housing Fund, for which the firm closed on a total of £192 million with its partner Civitas Investment Man­agement in August 2021.

With its UK real estate impact investing strategy, Schroders will aim to revitalise communities, address the lack of affordable housing and promote job creation and economic growth across the UK. The impact investment strategies will focus on town centers, homes and workplaces in deprived areas in the UK.

Santer has more than 25 years of experience across commercial, residential and impact real estate investing. Most recently, he focused on healthcare investing as chief investment officer at UK real estate investment trust Primary Health Properties. Prior to this, Santer held various roles working on pan-European and UK-only real estate funds at PGIM and MGPA. He is also non-executive director of London-based Impact Healthcare REIT.

Santer is the latest in a string of senior real estate hires at Schroders this year, which also include Andrew Haskins, head of strategy and investor advisory, Asia-Pacific real estate, and Keisuke Kusano, head of real estate for Japan, both in February; Rebecca Gates, head of UK asset management, in April; and Stephen Miles, head of strategic capital partnerships for Europe, last month.