Situs has hired former Deutsche Bank managing director Don Belanger to head up the commercial real estate advisory firm’s expansion into debt advisory and brokerage.
Belanger, who has worked at Deutsche Bank in two stints as well as UBS and Credit Suisse, is to take up the role from early April as executive managing director leading Situs’ push into securing financing for small to medium sized borrowers across Europe.
Situs, whose circa $200m acquisition by Stone Point Capital will complete in the next two weeks, sees the expansion into loan brokerage as an evolution of its business model which aims to service the entire loan lifespan: from sourcing debt to due diligence and underwriting, loan servicing and, where required, restructuring.
Belanger will focus on pan-European CRE loans of up to £150m and look to source bilateral as well agented CMBS loans, with an initial focus in the UK and Southern Europe.
More broadly, Situs’ new parent, Stone Point Capital, is ready to back the advisory firm’s M&A-led growth in Europe, with a trajectory of acquiring real estate loan servicing platforms in Spain and Italy. Situs believes its services are most required in markets and situations where complexity is highest.
Debt brokerage in Europe has stepped up in the last three years notably with the entrance of Eastdil Secured, which has successfully combined vendor transactions with financing mandates.
CBRE stepped up its debt advisory business with the appointment of Steve Williamson two years ago, also a Deutsche Bank alumnus, while Hatfield Philips recruited Rupert Gill last summer, a loan servicer seeking to diversify into advising lenders on deploy capital.
More recently, Capita Asset Services has recruited James Wright to work alongside Tracey Folkes to launch its debt broking advisory business, advising borrowers on senior and mezzanine financing in the UK and some jurisdictions in Europe.
For loan servicers, debt brokerage is a needed diversification as revenues from CMBS loans dwindles as the net securitisation universe continues to dwindle. For agency firms, debt brokerage is the missing piece of their real estate service offering.
Arguably, as debt markets in Europe continue to diversify away from the core bank lending universe of the pre-crisis era, debt brokerage is increasingly a more sustainable business line than previously.