UBS builds CMBS franchise
UBS made a serious statement of intent in June when it unveiled Donald Belanger as managing director and head of EMEA real estate capital markets. Belanger joins after two years spent at Credit Suisse, where he held a similar European role, responsible for origination, structuring and distribution of all real estate debt in Europe.
In his new role Belanger reports to Ramesh Singh, global head of securitized products and head of DCM Americas. He will work closely with Wilson Lee, head of EMEA real estate principal finance and head of real estate finance for Asia Pacific.
Lee continues to report to Singh, having joined UBS in March 2005 by all accounts to set up a European CMBS business. His previous role was at Lehman Brothers, where he was head of European real estate investment banking. UBS’s European CMBS franchise was previously the remit of Leland Bunch, who has returned to the US to take up a new role at Bank of America.
Global CMBS was formerly run by Brian Harris, before he decamped to the now defunct UBS hedge fund, Dillon Read Capital Management. Belanger will focus on the capital markets aspect of the business, leaving Lee to look after the rest of the European real estate activities.
A further eight Credit Suisse bankers have joined Belanger in moving to UBS. The most senior is Prashant Bhartia, who was a director at Credit Suisse. Three vice-presidents have moved: Bjarne Eggesbo, Patrick Donovan and Tomas de Vargas Muchuca. The other four are junior bankers at analyst and associate level.
It was a little over a year ago that UBS announced the formation of a real estate finance team. It had previously pursued a conservative approach to the sector, so the bank’s new-found aggression comes at an interesting time. European commercial property valuations have become stretched (especially in the UK) at the same time as the ratings agencies have become more wary of the leverage being extended to real estate borrowers by the banks.
Credit Suisse moved quickly to appoint Todd Hirsch as head of its European real estate and securitization group. Although he has worked in Europe for only a year, Hirsch is a veteran of the CMBS market, having worked in Credit Suisse’s New York office for 10 years.
He will report to Rob Brennan on a product basis and regionally to Gael de Boissard, European head of fixed income. The bank has also recently lost Arvind Bajaj, who established Credit Suisse’s CMBS conduit Titan two years ago. He left to join an India-focused hedge fund called Ptarmigan Capital run by Craig Phillips. But Credit Suisse is not the only house to have had real estate talent poached recently: Morgan Stanley’s long standing head of CMBS, Shirish Godbole, has left the bank to join Goldman Sachs.