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Category ArchiveJonathan Pollack

The 50 Most Important Figures of Commercial Real Estate Finance

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With even the industry’s top lenders battling it out for every deal—bank against debt fund, CMBS shop against life insurer—never has there been a more competitive year in American commercial real estate finance than 2017

“We were doing head-to-head combat every day,” as UBS’ Chris LaBianca, this year’s No. 31 honoree, put it. That made it trickier than ever before for our survey of the battlefield to rank the most exemplary victors—especially given our desire to take a broader nationwide perspective this time around.

This fresh outlook widened the field like never before. As a result, a painstaking dive into the companies behind the big-number deals—as well as due consideration to fearsome feats of entrepreneurship among some of the field’s newest entrants—went into crowning our champions of real estate deal-making. Volumes were up nearly across the board, creating a dog-eat-dog environment where firms had to sprint ahead merely to stay in place among our ranks.

In that context, the performance of some of our dynamic newbies rings all the more impressive. Lotus Capital, Faisal Ashraf’s year-old startup, expanded its debt-advisory reach to three continents and launched a new loan sale distribution platform, landing with a splash for its first year on the list in the No. 41 spot.

KKR’s debt business is off to the races, already going blow for blow with stalwarts like Blackstone and TPG. And CBRE’s Tom Traynor and James Millon turned in a stellar debut performance we couldn’t ignore, arranging $5.1 billion in debt in just their first eight months on the job.

In the world of securitized mortgages, the era of risk retention opened more space between the haves and the have-nots, pushing the most aggressive CMBS shops into some of our top spots. Fueled by eye-popping single-asset deals, those firms claimed 2017’s most exciting trophy asset financings all to themselves.

And the formidable Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae each surpassed their own high-water marks, producing record volumes that affirmed their places at the forefront of America’s multifamily market. Their wake propelled some of our honorees’ impressive leaps this year, like Walker & Dunlop’s jump to the No. 19 slot, vaulting 30 places from last year.

Finally, we made sure to tip our hats to the market’s envelope-pushers, outfits like Bank of the Ozarks (No. 17), who has charged boldly but astutely into the forbidding territory of construction lending, and Starwood (No.4) whose multicylinder approach continues to impress.

It’s that brand of dynamism—shared in different ways by all our honorees—that writes the stories that fill our pages all year long.

Source: commercial