Brookfield hires GAM’s Farinola to grow its European debt business

The debt specialist will lead the expansion of the Canadian property giant’s lending activities in the region.

Canadian real estate manager Brookfield Asset Management has signalled its ambition to grow its European lending activities with the hiring of property debt specialist Martin Farinola from Swiss asset manager GAM.

In his new role, Farinola will lead Brookfield’s European debt business from London. He will be responsible for leading the expansion of the company’s real estate debt business in the region, focusing on the origination and execution of transactions across the continent.

Farinola told Real Estate Capital: “We are currently interested in all asset classes and will provide whole loans, mezzanine loans and development financing.”

Farinola: joined Brookfield from GAM

Farinola will work alongside Tom Flick, who will be moving from the firm’s New York office to London over the summer to further support the company’s debt drive. Farinola will report to Andrea Balkan, managing partner of Brookfield’s New York-based real estate group. Rohit Srivastava is the company’s London-based head of capital markets.

Brookfield has been quietly building its European real estate lending business in recent years. The firm’s pan-European mandate includes whole loans, mezzanine and development financing secured against most property types. “We are excited about the real estate debt opportunity in Europe, hence the appointment of Farinola,” a spokesperson at Brookfield AM told Real Estate Capital.

In December 2017, Balkan told Real Estate Capital the company was planning to lend in the UK through its fifth real estate debt fund, which closed on $3 billion in mid-November of that year, making it the largest real estate debt fund closed in 2017.

In September 2019, Brookfield further increased its presence in the real estate debt market when it bought a 62 percent stake in the credit-focused private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management in a cash and stock deal worth roughly $4.7 billion. It is understood that Oaktree’s credit focus was of great appeal to the Canadian manager.

However, the firm said that Oaktree’s European debt activities and the Brookfield European debt team, which now includes Farinola, are two separate businesses operating independently.

At GAM, Farinola was investment director and co-head of the firm’s real estate debt business for almost five years. He had joined independent asset manager Renshaw Bay in 2012, prior to its real estate finance business being bought by GAM in 2015. Prior to Renshaw Bay, Farinola worked on Goldman Sachs’ mortgage trading desk in London, responsible for loan trading and monitoring of risk and syndication of new commercial real estate loan originations. Before this, he worked at BlackRock based in London and New York, managing pan-European mezzanines, B-notes and CMBS portfolios.