Property People James Thomson

Property People James Thomson

This month we feature James Thomson, General Counsel at Structadene Group.

Hi James, do tell us a little about Structadene Group and your day to day role.

Structadene group is the family office of the Pearl Family. Established in the 1960s it is now one of the largest privately owned property portfolios in the UK. It has its headquarters in Islington from where the portfolio is managed and developed. It now has in excess of £1bn of assets under management and continues to grow through its development and investment strategy. We have a team of seven lawyers who advise on all aspects of real estate law in respect of the portfolio. This includes advising on the acquisition of new assets and the divestment of surplus assets, general day to day leasing work, including litigation and financing advising on the debt across the portfolio. Of course, I have to prioritise and deal with the usual training and management issues that a company of this size throw up!

You were previously in Professional Practice – what is the biggest difference you’ve found being on ‘the other side of the fence’?

That is a good question. I was in Private Practice for nearly 20 years and I have to confess that I prefer the grass on this side of the fence. I am much more involved with and required to advise on all aspects of the business compared to when I was in Private Practice, where I tended to only be called in when a articular legal requirement came along. This deeper involvement allows me to understand the business better and provide legal advice as well as strategic advice. I also have to make sure my legal advice is commercially astute to fit in with the long term strategy of the business and I cannot hide behind long engagement letters and caveats!

How is the current uncertainly over Brexit effecting the market from your viewpoint?

We have a large presence on the high street. The high street has been affected by matters beyond Brexit, but I would say this is our biggest challenge at the moment. We are blessed with an excellent team of property professional who are dealing with it superbly. In time, Brexit may have an impact on our financing models, but time will tell.

Finally how do you like to spend your time away from the office?

I like to enjoy a snooze on the HS1 on the way home after work and then I tend to follow instructions from Mrs Thomson when I am at home as we try to ensure our four kids do not cause too much chaos on the home front. If you gave me a blank piece of paper, it would include a round of golf on a Spring day at Royal Cinque Ports golf club where I am a member or coaching the mighty Chartham U10 football team in the East Kent League, being fully aware that all the team are fitter and faster than me. I would round the day off with a cold beer and looking over the Kent countryside listening to Spotify!

Thanks for your time James!


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