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Alumni Profile: Shuliang Ni

Shuliang interned at ElmTree Funds, LLC

Shuliang Ni, MA '14

“During this past summer I did a 9-week internship at ElmTree Funds, LLC, a private equity real estate investment firm in the U.S. focused on commercial real estate net lease, sale-leaseback, and build-to-suit opportunities.  ElmTree’s management has successfully developed, acquired, financed and disposed of over $3 billion in commercial real estate assets."

When I first met the Chief Investment Officer of ElmTree, I got a chance to introduce my financial background, my passion for real estate and my career goal, which is to be an expert in the real estate sector of a financial advisory industry.  After talking with him, I found ElmTree, a real estate investment firm as well as a private equity fund, to be a great place for me to gain insight into the U.S. real estate industry, and to take advantage of my financial background at the same time.  

During my first month at ElmTree I was assigned to do historical case studies.  In the last 3-4 years, ElmTree and its predecessor fund have acquired about 40 properties. After I reviewed all of these cases, including reading investment memos and historical data, I wrote summaries for each case, providing a project overview, investment opportunity and strategy and made a slideshow presentation for my supervisor.  He would use this when introducing a fund’s historical performance to investors. Through these case studies, I developed a deeper understanding of how to build up practical models, how to prepare an investment memo and how to comprehensively evaluate a real estate investment opportunity.

I also had the chance to do due diligence work for ElmTree’s potential deals. I learned how to do research on a property and its tenants by using information from brokers, credit agencies and other on-line resources and run a model at the same time to get the key ratios, such as “IRR”.  I also completed two investment memos for potential deals in North Carolina and China, which provided a reference to ElmTree’s investment committee. And, as an analyst intern, I was also responsible for doing market research for the ElmTree Newsletter and sending on-line news reports to ElmTree every day.  I had the opportunity to attend the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) convention in Boston and I witnessed the process of making a deal happen in the real world. During this internship, the most surprising thing for me was the huge scale of the net lease market in the U.S., which is about $2 trillion. However, few people in China run or understand this business and I recommended many times that it may be a great opportunity for ElmTree to do some marketing in China. I also translated a 28-page flip book into Chinese to help with promotion in China. Fortunately, I was told that they may have a plan to go China this year and I might be able to join.

In conclusion, I learned a great deal about the commercial real estate industry, especially the net lease business in the U.S. on a practical basis.  This internship was a wonderful and fruitful experience for me,  an important reference for my career choices and it will definitely benefit my future career development.