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Meridian Debt Brokers On The Move To Expand Rival's Finance Platform

126 Madison Ave., where Adam Hakim and James Murad arranged a $350M construction loan

Two Meridian Capital Group directors are jumping ship to Ripco Real Estate’s expanding debt platform. 

Adam Hakim and James Murad have joined Ripco's debt and structured finance team as executive managing director and managing director, respectively, the company announced Monday. They will work alongside Steven Sperandio’s team, which is based in the firm's Miami office. Hakim will split his time between New York and Miami, while Murad will be based in NYC, according to a release.

The duo joined Meridian in 2018 from since-shuttered Eastern Consolidated and have arranged $15B in financing across a variety of property types in their careers. The team’s deals include a $350M construction loan for a luxury condominium tower at 126 Madison Ave., a $215M construction loan for a luxury condominium development at 537 Greenwich St., a $130M construction loan for a five-building, 205-unit luxury rental conversion at 30 Morningside Drive and a $121M construction loan for a 45-story, 526-key hotel development at 140 W. 28th St.

Most recently, Hakim and Murad closed over $300M in hotel bridge financing within the last six weeks. 

"Joining RIPCO feels like a homecoming to us,” the team said in a statement. “It's a perfect fit that allows us to leverage our combined expertise in a way that feels both familiar and refreshingly innovative.”

Ripco said that the move is part of it diversifying its services and enhancing its  capital markets capabilities. Hakim and Murad specialize in bridge loans and land and development financing. 

Meanwhile, Meridian, which has been the most active mortgage broker in the country, is in the midst of a controversy over loans it has arranged in recent years. In November, Freddie Mac launched an investigation into New York-based Meridian over loans it arranged. The Wall Street Journal later reported that the brokerage was “effectively blacklisted” by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac due to allegations that some brokers falsified figures to get clients bigger mortgages.

The day after news of the investigation broke, Fannie Mae announced that agency-backed loans that involved brokers would be pre-reviewed

At the end of March, Meridian announced that it replaced its CEO, founder Ralph Herzka, with Brian Brooks, a former comptroller of the currency who has held several roles at Fannie Mae.