JLL appoints head of hotel debt advisory – Exclusive

The new hire will add advisory capacity to support the firm’s hotels division.

JLL has appointed Chris Gow as head of debt advisory for the firm’s hotels and hospitality division in the EMEA region.

The new hire will add advisory capacity to support the firm’s hotels division, a segment with “strong” activity this year, Chris Holmes, head of debt advisory in EMEA, told Real Estate Capital.

“We’re working across various transactions in the hotel space, building on a sector which typically uses significant amounts of debt,” Holmes said.

Gow joins JLL from boutique financial advisory firm HMT, where he was appointed to establish a debt advisory offering within the firm’s corporate finance team. He led the opening of a London office for the firm in 2015.

Prior to this, Gow worked at HBOS in the leveraged finance team, where he focused on corporate and real estate lending.

Starting on 2 October, Gow will report to the head of hotels, Philip Ward. He will also work with Svetlana Tikhomirova, JLL’s vice president in the hotel debt space.

“Hotel financing is definitely a significant push for us in terms of expansion,” Holmes said, adding that the firm works closely with the sales team, as transactions often lead to acquisition financing.

JLL is currently working on hotel transactions in London, Edinburgh and Spain. It has also had activity in Portugal and the Benelux region.

The firm’s debt advisory division is also expected to expand within other alternative asset classes, as it works closely with its student housing, self-storage and data centres specialists.

Additional debt advisory capacity would be needed as leverage is used consistently in these sectors as a springboard to equity performance, Holmes explained.

“It’s important to have some consistency and people in the team who can position the credit story and opportunity to the lenders, in order to generate the capital raise,” he added.

JLL has a large debt advisory team in the Nordics, run from Stockholm, with 14 individuals. It also has a presence in Iberia, operating from Madrid. Its team recently advised on a major deal – Blackstone’s acquisition of a majority stake in the property portfolio of Santander-owned Banco Popular, understood be valued at around €5 billion.

In terms of regions, JLL’s debt advisory unit could look to expand to the Benelux, as activity levels are “strong” and the existing teams need support on the debt side, Holmes said.