AIG, the newly re-privatised global insurance company, will step up ambitions to underwrite UK commercial property senior loans this year, after hiring BAWAG managing director Tim Jones, CoStar News can reveal.
Jones joins AIG later this month in a senior lending role after quitting his 18-month stint at BAWAG before Christmas, in a departure which is timed with the restructuring of BAWAG’s London lending team.
BAWAG, owned by Cerberus Capital Management, will still lend against UK property this year, headed by Marie Fernandez, head of international real estate, who is based in Vienna.
BAWAG will no longer support ay London-based loan originators. Last year, the Austrian deposit-taking lender closed around seven deals worth circa £400m.
AIG and BAWAG declined to comment.
Last year AIG only closed two syndication deals since its return to property lending 18 months ago: a £50m slice of Citigroup’s £150m share of the loan-on-loan financing for Lone Star acquisition of Project Royal, while last autumn AIG acquired a slice of Goldman Sachs’ £220m five-year loan which financed Blackstone’s acquisition of Devonshire Square.
AIG was the frontrunner to finance Round Hill’s £424m acquisition of Nido, the three-strong UK student accommodation portfolio from Blackstone, for several months before M&G Investments ultimately gazumped the US insurance lender with a £266m senior loan.
Jones will report into co-head of AIG’s London-based asset structured products group Andrew Forester, global head of structured products, and Tom Fewings, European head of structured products.
The hire of Jones will strengthen team comprised of former Hatfield Philips director, Stewart Hotston, and former Moody’s analyst Arihit “Bobby” Ghosh, who work across the new lending due diligence, underwriting as well as managing AIG’s remaining circa $1bn European CMBS bond portfolio.
AIG completed a remarkable turnaround in its corporate history last month after enduring the ignominy of an $85bn government rescue the day after Lehman Brothers collapsed, selling the final 234 million common shares for a net profit across the entire bailout of $22.7bn – a feat barely imaginable four years ago.
Robert Benmosche, chief executive officer at AIG wrote in a letter to employees on the day the final sale was announced on 11 December: “Today warrants a celebration like no other in AIG’s history and places well in the past a crisis none of us will ever forget.
“It marks one of the most extraordinary – and what many believed to be the most unlikely – turnarounds in American business history. And you did it.
“There is a saying that in American life, there are no second acts. Well, take a bow, because today marks our second act.”