Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Friday speaker series: Brad Olsen, Atlantic Partners

Meet Our Current Students is a continuing series of blog posts from first-year real estate MBAs in the Graaskamp Center. Here, they share their unique perspectives on the school, the real estate program and more--from the inside. This week, Ben Schmidt shares his thoughts on the first session of our spring semester Friday speaker series:

In just a few weeks, I and the other first-year real estate MBA students will be heading to France to attend the international property conference MIPIM. As part of our preparations for the upcoming trip, both the Global Real Estate Master students and the real estate MBAs had the privilege of hearing from Brad Olsen, founder of Atlantic Partners, Ltd., regarding his observations on current global real estate markets.

Brad has been a friend of the Graaskamp Center for many years and works with global real estate firms looking to invest in the United States. Brad has also been an active participant in MIPIM since nearly its inception.

Brad shared with us his thoughts on global capital flows. Not surprisingly, his outlook was also reflected in the recent survey of members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE) conducted by the Graaskamp Center: that many foreign investors are looking toward the U.S. as a market in which to invest their capital. But Brad also observed increased investments in Asia and Latin America.

He gave us some insights on possible future sources of foreign capital. In his opinion, Asia is going to be a big source, but not just from China and India. South Korea, Malaysia and even Japan (despite the resources needed to support its aging population) are all making significant real estate investments. And because of smart decisions made in the past 5-10 years, there is capital available to invest. On the European front, Scandinavia represents an interesting potential source of capital, as they become active investors.

When it comes to UW alumni operating on the global stage, Wisconsin alumnus Wenzel Hoburg, Vice President of Real Estate Investments for CPP Investment Board in Canada (and also a member of the advisory board for the Global Real Estate Master program), has been perhaps the single-most active real estate investor globally in past 2 years. It just goes to show that world of Wisconsin real estate is a small one, indeed.

Ben Schmidt is a first year real estate MBA who came to Wisconsin from Indiana by way of Chicago, where he practiced as a corporate attorney. Prior to practicing law, Ben obtained both his B.S. in finance and his J.D. from Indiana University-Bloomington. Upon completion of the real estate program, Ben plans to pursue either a development or policy role with relation to residential real estate.

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