A pair of former Citigroup Inc. executives have founded a new Miami-based firm to help single-family offices invest in real estate deals on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
White Bridge Capital, led by Tommy Campbell and Regina Garcia Handal, is a private investment and advisory firm that’s tapping into the years of experience the two have working with wealthy families from their time in private banking and commercial real estate.
The idea is to help single-family offices from Latin America build real estate investment companies while also convincing U.S.-based family offices of the benefits — and high returns — of buying into the nearshoring boom happening in the manufacturing hubs south of the border.
“Family offices want to keep control, but they still do not have their in-house team with boots on the ground with execution capabilities,” Campbell said in an interview. “So we’re bridging that gap by having a presence in the U.S. and Mexico with strategic partners.”
The firm, which launched in the second half of 2023, oversees nearly $400 million of capital, with plans to more than double that this year, Campbell said. The team should grow to about 10 people from four in the next 12 months.
White Bridge has strategic partnerships with Agave Holdings — the family office of the billionaire Beckmann family behind Mexico’s Becle SAB de CV, known for its Jose Cuervo tequila brand — as well as with the credit firm Vertix Group.
Over 15 years, Agave has built a real estate business that now spans some 4 million square feet (372,000 square meters) of space, with more than half in South Florida, and can act as an example to other groups, Campbell said. Vertix helps White Bridge provide financing to clients and also connects them with developers, he said.
Campbell, a native of Uruguay who now lives in Miami, was at Citi for 16 years, where he most recently led private banking in Mexico. Garcia, who’s based in Mexico City, ran commercial real estate at Citi for Latin America and previously worked at Credit Suisse and Blackstone Inc.
As more wealthy families open investment offices around the world, the firms are gaining clout as sources of capital to finance deals and build portfolios of assets ranging from real estate and art to hedge funds. Meanwhile, the South Florida market is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for money from Latin America.
Elections in the U.S. and Mexico this year should create investment opportunities, Campbell and Garcia said. In Mexico, they see greater support to address infrastructure bottlenecks and believe that the next U.S. administration will continue to strengthen ties at a time of heightened competition with China.
“Mexico is now the primary supplier of goods to the U.S. after passing China, which is a unique opportunity in the country for new investors to come in and play in this market,” Garcia said.
Some of White Bridge’s early deals have included Mexican families investing in industrial warehouses in Dallas and a Central American family putting $70 million into multifamily developments in Texas and Florida, they said.
While office space is still attractive in South Florida, they’re advising clients against deals in markets like San Francisco, Chicago and New York where vacancies remain high. Industrial real estate will “continue to explode,” they said, and White Bridge recently added a senior development partner in Dallas to help work on those types of deals in Texas.
The current environment of high interest rates is also creating an opportunity for family offices to step in while institutional investors are focused on refinancing and dealing with existing investments, Campbell said.
“The macro things that are happening right now in the U.S. are very unique for a first-time investor to come in,” he said. “It’s very good timing for these big family offices that want to deploy big checks into the country to enter without having as much competition.”