Naftali hires top RFR exec to head acquisitions

Miki Naftali and David Hochfelder
Miki Naftali and David Hochfelder

UPDATED, 5:48 p.m., Sept. 20: The Naftali Group tapped David Hochfelder, a former senior executive at RFR Holding, to lead its acquisitions team. The hire comes just three months after Naftali’s former chief investment officer and the head of acquisitions left the firm to strike out on their own.

While at RFR, Hochfelder worked on more than $2.5 billion worth of real estate acquisitions and investments spanning over 3.5 million square feet. These deals include a $375 million deal to purchase the bulk of the Watchtower portfolio in Dumbo from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a $190 million deal for 285 Madison Avenue, a $55 million deal for 190 Bowery, and a $90 million deal for the Holiday Inn Soho. Prior to RFR, he was at the City Investment Fund, a partnership between Fisher Brothers and Morgan Stanley.

In a statement, Naftali Group [TRDataCustom] CEO Miki Naftali said Hochfelder would help the firm “seize the investment opportunities that I believe will soon open up in the New York marketplace.” Naftali has been one of the most cautious investors in New York of late, telling TRD in June that the numbers in the market weren’t making sense and that his acquisitions team had “not been busy for a while.” But he said last month that opportunities in distressed assets and elsewhere were beginning to pop up.

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In an interview Tuesday, Hochfelder said Naftali could pursue acquisitions outside of its sandbox, which is residential development sites. “We’re very well-positioned to buy things attractively, whether it’s waiting for a market correction or other opportunities,” he said.

Hochfelder’s hire fills the void left by Victor Sigoura, who was the Naftali Group’s chief investment officer, and Drew Popkin, who was head of acquisitions. They left in June to form investment firm Highpoint Property Group and struck out against their former boss soon after, alleging he failed to pay them profits they were due.

Naftali, in turn, accused them of stealing confidential information. Sigoura settled his suit with Naftali earlier this month, even apologizing to him in writing. He also split up with Popkin to form his own venture, Legion Investment Group. Popkin will continue to run Highpoint, however, and the legal dispute between him and Naftali is ongoing.