Atlanta private equity firm Peachtree Group names new COO

Atlanta Business Chronicle – Atlanta investment firm Peachtree Group has appointed a longtime operational management veteran as its new chief operating officer.

Melissa Ross Smith, who previously served as a managing director for title insurance agency OS National LLC, will now oversee overall performance, strategy and organizational development of Peachtree and its operating businesses, according to an announcement from the firm.

Peachtree Group, which invests heavily in the hotel sector, is a diversified firm. In addition to its lending arm, Peachtree maintains asset management, development and property management divisions. It is the fourth-largest private equity firm in Atlanta, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle research. Peachtree Group has $2.3 billion in capital under management and 300 current investments, including in Blue Star Studios and Canopy by Hilton Atlanta Midtown.

The new appointment comes during a period of growth for Peachtree.

CEO Greg Friedman told the Chronicle last month that Peachtree has been “aggressive” in lending to groups unable to source debt for projects in the aftermath of the mid-March bank collapses. The firm is also seeking to buy debt from financial institutions looking to reduce their exposure to commercial real estate.

“There’s less competition,” Friedman said. “We’re able to take advantage of it.”

Additionally, the appointment is the latest move by a commercial real estate firm to put women in leadership roles.

Within the past three months, Cushman & Wakefield tapped Molly Millard to lead its Atlanta office tenant representation practice and named Aileen Almassy as its first female vice chair for the Atlanta office agency leasing practice. In December, Cousins Properties Inc. named Kennedy Hicks as its chief investment officer and managing director of the Atlanta market.