JLL has expanded its European debt advisory division into providing structured finance services in a bid to augment its existing debt brokerage practice.
The real estate consultancy has hired former HSBC banker Ben Roger-Smith as head of structured products for the EMEA region, a newly-created role reporting to the firm’s lead director for EMEA debt advisory, Chris Holmes.
JLL said that the expansion into structured finance is a strategic move designed to help clients seeking alternative sources of finance. Holmes told Real Estate Capital that the firm had been considering the move for a while in order to build out the debt unit’s activities from a focus on more traditional senior and mezzanine loan products.
Roger-Smith’s role will be to develop a structured credit platform which will tap into demand for real estate debt products from investors which do not have the capacity to originate traditional loans or from fixed-income investors which prefer to hold real debt in alternative formats, Holmes told Real Estate Capital.
The move is part of JLL’s aim to create a “holistic” debt division which works closely with the firm’s M&A and capital markets teams, Holmes added.
“Against a backdrop of reduced bank lending, shorter loan terms, regulatory changes and upheavals, and the associated increasing cost of capital, demand for non-bank lending and more diverse sources of capital continues to rise,” said Holmes. “Ben’s appointment, along with our recent acquisition of AGL in Sweden, puts us in a strong position to navigate fragmented debt markets and arrange the best capital structure over any time horizon to help our clients fulfil their objectives.”
JLL acquired Stockholm-based real estate financial advisory firm AGL last September, providing the firm with a unit advising clients on debt management including securities and derivatives. JLL’s aim now is to expand such services across its European client base.
Investors will be able to receive advice in relation to debt products including revolving credit facilities, privately-placed bonds and other types of long-dated private loan structures, Roger-Smith told Real Estate Capital: “Various formats and distribution channels will be available to borrowers.”
Roger-Smith has relocated to London for the role following time spent in New York. He joins JLL from Finn Square Capital, which he joined in August 2014. Prior to that, he spent 15 years at HSBC, including in New York, as part of the bank’s global structured finance team. At HSBC, he was responsible for the origination, structuring and distribution of asset backed securities, including RMBS, CMBS, whole business securitisation, future flow and infrastructure PFI/ PPP.
“The establishment of our new structured finance offering under Ben’s leadership further reinforces our debt and financial advisory capabilities,” said Richard Bloxam, head of capital markets, EMEA, at JLL.
“Ben will work alongside our M&A, funds advisory and investment sales and acquisition experts to ensure we give our clients the edge in their investment decisions. This development is in line with our long term strategy to ensure clients can benefit from JLL’s access to global capital, deep and broad knowledge of the real estate asset class and enhanced financial expertise,” Bloxam said.
Holmes added: “We are continuing to invest in the debt advisory business. We are still looking at ways to grow what is viewed as a high-growth business.”