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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15 January 2009

The Career of Jost Hieronymus

jfr. FRANKFURT, 15 January. Ten years ago, Jost Hieronymus, a lawyer who has been in the property business for almost 30 years now, rented a small office in the local station building directly on Lake Starnberg to fulfil a dream: he wanted to write fiction. But fate caught up with him and his novel came to naught. Instead, calls for help from companies who were in dire straits reached Hieronymus. At that time, too, many enterprises were in a bad way in a situation where the shares in the New Market were attaining ever greater heights, with millions being first earnt and then going up in smoke. It was then that he set up “Comes Real Consulting, Mediation, Services for the Property Business” with a few partners – a kind of crisis management to rescue ailing property companies.

Spectacular mandates like the interim management of Aubis AG in Berlin and the BBV Real Estate Funds Group earnt Hieronymus, who turns 60 on 21 January, the reputation of being the “Red Adair of the Property Business”, that legendary specialist and fearless fire-fighter from America who took on the most dangerous assignments around the globe. Almost all the conflagrations in the property world have a similar cause, says Hieronymus, who was the managing director of several property concerns, amongst them chairman of the board of Allwo Allgemeine Wohnungsvermögens AG, Hanover, Aachen-Münchener Immobilien GmbH in Aachen and the Allgemeinen Immobilienholding in Frankfurt. It is a partial loss of reality in dealing with the extremely high risks often obtaining in the property business, says Hieronymus, who has the advantage of holding a degree in law after also having studied both economics and business administration. The right mix of participation in opportunity and risk is, he believes, decisive for the success of any rescue plan. After processes had been worked out and companies put back on their feet, a wave of international investment took place at the time. The predominant concerns of the consulting group from Lake Starnberg, which had in the meantime been complemented by the firm of architects apc, were now transaction support, valuation and expert advice (due diligence). And since law always plays a major role next to economics and technology in tackling usually complex property assignments, he founded the law firm Advo Real Property Lawyers together with Frank Manzke. He considers that the WertGrund Group, which he founded with his partners Thomas Meyer, Philipp Reister, Hans Christian Schmidt, Georg Thomas and Felix Wegeler, will have a good chance in the market. This company has contributed to a joint flat-investment venture together with Merrill Lynch, with 60 million euros of equity. In addition to all this, Jost Hieronymus, the economic lawyer, is a mediator in the pool of the Munich Chamber of Trade and Industry and, since 1995, visiting lecturer at the European Business School.

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