Principal Financial Adds Karlekar for Real Estate Unit

Principal Financial Group Inc., the seller of life insurance and retirement products, hired Indraneel Karlekar as head of global research at the real estate unit as the company bets on commercial property.

Karlekar joins Principal Real Estate Investors from Cole Real Estate Investments Inc., where he was chief investment strategist and starts in the newly created post on Sept. 16, Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal said in a statement today. He’ll be based in Chicago.

Principal, led by Chief Executive Officer Larry Zimpleman, is bolstering the asset-management unit to add clients and increase fee income. Principal Real Estate Investors manages or subadvises $47 billion in commercial real estate debt and equity, according to the statement.

Karlekar’s “extensive experience in global research and strategy will be instrumental” in expanding the business, Randy Mundt, chief investment officer at the real estate unit, said in the statement.

Karlekar previously worked at American International Group Inc. and ING-Clarion. He has a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in the U.K., an MBA from India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, and earlier graduated from St. Stephens College in India, Principal said.

Principal gained 2.6 percent to $43.80 at 10:37 a.m. in New York. The shares have advanced 54 percent this year.

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