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RCG Longview prez Chris LaBianca
We’ve gathered the best and the brightest for tomorrow’s second annual Bisnow New York Investment Summit, including RCG Longview prez Christopher LaBianca, whose firm is looking for opportunities in mezz loans, b-notes (also nice on the clarinet), preferred equity investments, and first-mortgage bridge loans. (Last chance: Register here!) It's currently investing its fourth debt fund, which has over $600M of equity. It’s also in the market to raise RCG Longview Debt Fund V, a similar size and profile. “My sector has seen a tremendous increase in capital allocation over the past year, as many new entrants have emerged to take advantage of the wave of loan maturities over the next several years,” he tells us.
Steven Schwartz, managing director of loan acquisitions and originations for Torchlight
The debt side has also seen more transactions as banks—and to a lesser degree, special servicers—have started to shake loose of assets. Steven Schwartz, managing director of loan acquisitions and originations for Torchlight, who'll also be speaking, says his firm has played in discounted payoffs of notes, with more likely coming. As first-loss buyers, the firm is also seeing a transaction increase in the CMBS world as liquidity comes back. And more investors have come out to play over the last 60 days: Torchlight has bid on some pools and has been outbid, Steven says—larger pools are harder to come by and the investors are now going to the smaller pools.
Ackman-Ziff's Russ Schildkraut, Pat Hanlon, Simon Ziff, and Gerald Cohen
On the equity side, panelist Simon Ziff, president of Ackman-Ziff, tells us investors have become more positive, although they’re still cautious and selective given the issues in Europe and pending budget and tax policy resolutions. Ackman-Ziff is seeing more multifamily deals on the equity side than other sectors. Outside of the equity biz, refinancing has exploded since Q4. Between deals, Simon is propagating his favorite trees and plants from seeds and cuttings. “You have to be very patient... it’s just like building culture at a brokerage firm,” he says. “One must be extremely careful not to add invasive plants to the garden.” Above, Simon (second from right) joins AZ’s Russ Schildkraut, Pat Hanlon, and Gerald Cohen on the roof with his Japanese maples.
Meridian Capital Group CEO Ralph Herzka
Meridian Capital Group is also seeing a lot of action, says CEO Ralph Herzka, who’s also speaking. Two of the big drivers: interest rates and competition among lenders. “We’ve been talking about historically low interest rates for years, but the current Treasury yields are prompting everyone to reevaluate the loans they have on their portfolios, even if they just refinanced a few years ago,” he tells us. There’s no longer a defined box in which loans must fit, and borrowers are increasingly able to access very favorable long-term financing on their terms.