MetLife, through its real estate investment group, originated $14.3 billion in global commercial real estate loans in 2015, surpassing last year’s record high of $12.1 billion.
Eight of the company’s 10 largest loans last year were in the US. The largest loan was a $505 million first mortgage on the Loews Universal Orlando Hotel Portfolio, collateralized by three resorts in Orlando, Florida.
Additional loans include a $400 million first mortgage on Columbia Center, a Class A office tower in Seattle, Washington and a $333 million contribution to a $1 billion mortgage loan on Mall at Short Hills, a super-regional mall in Short Hills, New Jersey.
The lender also originated more than $1.6 billion of commercial real estate loans in the United Kingdom; $200 million in Mexico; 45 billion Japanese yen; 400 million Australian dollars; 20 billion South Korean won; 4 million Chilean Unidad de Fomento.
“As MetLife grows, the demand for commercial mortgages has continued to grow,” head of real estate debt strategies, Gary Otten, told Real Estate Capital. “For example, in 2012, we launched an institutional asset management platform, MetLife Investment Management. We used our talent, scale and in-market presence to meet the investment needs of institutional clients. Last year, MetLife Investment Management originated approximately $1.1 billion in commercial mortgage loans for these clients.”
Real estate investments are an important part of MetLife’s asset-liability matching program and the long-term nature of these investments makes them a good fit for the long-term liabilities, the company wrote in a prepared statement.
“Some life insurance companies set limitations on their origination strategies, focusing almost exclusively on 10-year fixed rate loans,” said Otten. “By comparison, MetLife has an expansive asset-liability management platform, which allows us the ability to offer many products in the commercial mortgage space, both floating rate and fixed rate, and across the duration spectrum.”
Robert Merck, senior managing director and global head of real estate investments for MetLife, said the firm’s focus in 2015 included commercial mortgages, real estate equity, and investments on behalf of our institutional clients.
“Following our strategy of investing in major markets with strong fundamentals, MetLife strengthened its position as a leader in commercial mortgage lending both domestically and internationally,” he said.
MetLife’s real estate platform includes origination and asset management offices across eleven regional offices in the United States, London, Mexico City, Tokyo and Santiago, Chile.