Starwood Capital joins rivals in Europe’s property loans market

US real estate firm Starwood Capital Group has launched Starwood European Finance Company, a European real estate finance platform aiming at taking advantage of financing opportunities arising from the retrenching in bank lending in this space.

StarFin will focus on the UK and Northern Europe real estate markets and will follow a broad loan origination and acquisition model, investing across a combination of senior, whole, subordinated, bridge and development loans.

StarFin is Star Starwood Capital’s third major debt platform and follows two debt platforms in the United States which have lent over $10bn.

For the European launch, Starwook partnered with commercial property consultant Cushman & Wakefield, which will help source financing opportunities and provide market intelligence and research.

“Starwood was established in 1991 in the depths of that real estate downturn. In good times and bad we’ve built a track record in real estate financing via large debt platforms. We’re looking forward to expanding our presence in the European financing market,” said Peter Denton, head of European debt.

StarFin will be led by Starwood Capital’s European management team, including Jeff Dishner, senior managing director, and Denton.

Starwood’s initiative follows other players who recently showed interest for Europe’s real estate debt market.

Few months ago, international property investment manager Cordea Savills launched a real estate lending platform.

The company plans to transact new senior and subordinated lending as well as acquiring performing and non-performing loans, and recruited Keith Davidson and James Tarry from Palatium Investment Management.

The team plans to create investment vehicles to provide new investment finance in a risk-averse market, as well as acquiring existing financing arrangements.

“The debt funding gap is likely to continue in the medium term. It was not unexpected that more money was raised for debt funds in Europe in the third quarter of last year than for equity funds,” Justin O’Connor, chief executive officer at Cordea Savills said at the time.

Schroders has also been reported to have started talks to enter the real estate lending market, and the fund manager would be in the process of evaluating the launch of a division to provide debt finance to property owners and developers, joining Legal & General, M&G, AXA and Aviva which have all increased their lending operations during the past few months.

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