Q&A With CFLD’s Mike Sanford

Mike Sanford has been a fixture of Bay Area commercial real estate for over 25 years. In his most recent role, Mike was a recognized leader of Kilroy Realty’s operations on the West Coast serving as its Executive Vice President responsible for the Northern California region, including development. In his previous industry roles, he also held key roles at Lowe Enterprises, Equity Office Properties and Spieker Properties.

And now, it’s time for something new. Mike was recently appointed the chief executive officer of CFLD International’s US business division, CFLD (US) Inc. An international developer based in Singapore, CFLD will now have a full leadership team on the ground in the Bay Area that will look for development opportunities across the United States. We asked Mike to give us some background on his new role and what to expect from this developer in the near term.

CFLD International, San Francisco, Bay Area

Tell us about your new role at CFLD International. How did the opportunity present itself, and what appealed to you about the role that you’ll be taking?

Like many of life’s best opportunities it started innocently with a request to trade info on each other’s markets. I have been fascinated for some time with the number of Chinese developers, capital partners and tenants doing business on the West Coast, and I wanted to better understand what was going on in Asia and how that might affect our markets. The opportunity to lead a company with a very large blank canvas in the US that also has a great reputation as a large scale master planned, mixed-use developer in Asia with a solid foundation was very appealing to me. In addition, they already had a US team on the ground of very experienced professionals including a CFO and heads of acquisition/development, government and public affairs, and human resources. Lastly, the cultural fit with the local team and the executive team in Singapore was excellent.

Who is CFLD International, and how has your hiring as the CEO of the US operations bolstered the operation in the US?

CFLD International is headquartered in Singapore, and it focuses on early stage investment of infrastructure and the development and operation of new industry cities in key markets across Asia, North America and Africa.

Are there projects already under way for CFLD in the US that you will be leading, or will the company’s efforts now kick into high gear given that leadership had been appointed?

There are no existing projects but the US team has been hard at work for a number of months uncovering opportunities, so I would say the latter…high gear now!!

Will you be based in the Bay Area or does CFLD have a presence elsewhere in the US?

We will be based in the Bay Area.

How much of the organization’s efforts will be focused on California, or more specifically on Northern California and Pacific Northwest?

Our initial focus will be in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. The long term plan is to look in other US Markets. We want to be the market leader for mixed-use development in the US.

What will some of your top priorities be for the organization going forward?

In many ways the US entity is a start-up, so finding permanent office space, for example, is a priority! Beyond that, it will primarily be building a team and a US business platform. We are willing to partner with developers and capital partners as well, so much of the first few months will be reaching out to those groups, explaining who we are and what we are looking to do, and building the brand locally.

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