CBRE, the world’s largest property services firm, is talks with Cairn Capital over a collaboration which could lead to a joint venture senior debt fund, becoming the latest major real estate player to take advantage of the retreat of bank financing.
Steve Williamson, the former Deutsche Bank real estate lender who quit the bank after 14 years in January, is to join CBRE on 18 March as head of debt origination UK & EMEA in CBRE’s real estate finance division.
As part of his role, Williamson will seek to continue the long-running talks with Cairn Capital, the European structured finance and advisory specialist, over a possible senior debt collaboration.
Cairn Capital has been in dialogue with CBRE since last summer, exploring the options in the real estate debt market with any fund launched likely to source capital from third party investors.
Cairn Capital’s knowledge of the European CMBS investor universe is thought to be a compliment to CBRE’s mainstream property client base.
Williamson will report into UK chairman and chairman of real estate finance, Stephen Hubbard.
CBRE’s joint venture with Cairn Capital has been mooted since last summer, which is 12 months on from Cairn Capital’s aborted effort to launch a senior debt fund with Eurohypo and Schroders, with capital sourced from Oxford Properties.
Cairn Capital’s timing, in summer 2011, suffered from a change in appetite at Oxford Properties, exacerbated by the worsening Eurozone debt crisis which severely restricted risk appetite over the second half of the year.
Williamson spent 14 years at Deutsche Bank from 1999 to January 2013, including three years running the origination desk at Eurohypo between 1999 and 2002 when the bank was a Deutsche Bank subsidiary.
Latterly as head of European origination, Williamson is credited with originating the £305m senior loan to Blackstone to finance its circa £600m acquisition of the eight Mint hotels. Subsequently, the loan was syndicated to GE Capital Real Estate, GIC Real Estate and M&G Investments, as revealed by CoStar News.
At Deutsche Bank, Williamson reported into Gad Caspy, European head of real estate finance. Prior to Deutsche Bank, Williamson spent eight years at Hypo Real Estate Bank International, the predecessor trading name for the now nationalised Deutsche Pfandbriefbank, where he was responsible for growing the real estate senior debt origination platform.
Stephen Hubbard, UK chairman and chairman of real estate finance, CBRE said: “The appointment of Steve is a major coup for CBRE as he will bring extensive experience and knowledge to our Real Estate Finance division, building on our existing capabilities in raising both debt and equity financing for clients in the UK and across EMEA.
“In a dynamic and gradually improving market, where funding is key to the progression of the industry, Steve’s record of innovation in the debt arena will help extend our offer in an increasingly vital area of the funding deck.”