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Barings hires Chenavari’s Mellor in European push – Exclusive

The London-based real estate lending team is targeting debt investments in continental European markets.

Barings Real Estate has hired former Chenavari Investment Managers property debt specialist Sam Mellor to lead its lending drive in continental Europe, Real Estate Capital has learned.

Barings, which writes property loans on behalf of its parent company, the US insurer MassMutual, has appointed Mellor as its head of Europe originations – structured real estate investments.

From the firm’s London office, Mellor will be tasked with driving expansion into continental European lending markets, through origination of loans and the development and distribution of investment products.

In our Europe’s Top 40 Lenders report, published last week, Real Estate Capital reported that Barings has expanded the geographic reach of its lending mandate to initially encompass Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, although deals in those jurisdictions were yet to close as the time of publication.

Since the firm’s property lending strategy was launched in 2013, led by former Royal Bank of Scotland banker Chris Bates, the focus has been on the UK market. Recent loan deals have included a £200 million (€225 million) facility, closed in July, secured by the mixed-use Milton Park in Oxfordshire for Hermes Investment Management and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The same month, Barings provided a £43.2 million loan to finance the Chinese buyer of 165 Fleet Street in the City of London.

The firm has ramped up its lending in recent years, from £380 million in 2016, to £730 million in 2017 and more than £417 million in the first half of 2018. The firm’s European real estate loan book stood at £1.75 billion by mid-2018.

Debt will play an important role in Barings’ growth plans in European and Asian markets, said the firm’s head of real estate for Europe, Charles Weeks, adding the appointment of Mellow reflected the “strong interest we’ve seen from investors in European debt investment opportunities”.

In his previous role at London-based hedge fund Chenavari, Mellor was responsible for real estate investments throughout the capital structure, taking in debt and equity across public and private markets.