MetLife is preparing to expand its third-party institutional asset management platform to European commercial real estate lending, Real Estate Capital has learned.
The New York-based insurer already partners with third party institutional clients to originate commercial mortgages in the US market and the firm is planning to expand the business line to its London-based real estate lending team, which is led by Paul Wilson.
MetLife will focus on bringing institutional investor clients into real estate lending deals as minority partners. Initially, in the region of 10-20 percent of certain loans could be written on behalf of clients, although third-party mandates could eventually follow with mortgages originated entirely for institutional clients.
The European CRE lending team will work with Jason Funk, who was hired from Societe Generale’s Lyxor asset management unit this year to market the asset management business more widely to potential clients.
Several European insurers handle third-party real estate debt allocations although MetLife’s European operation has until now been focused on investing in-house capital for its general account, and latterly for regional insurance businesses.
Last year, for example, MetLife’s Irish division took a minority participation in a euro-denominated loan to Kennedy Wilson, financing three multi-family blocks and the Brooklawn House office building in Dublin.
The firm launched its institutional asset management platform, MetLife Investment Management in the US in 2012. “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,” Gary Otten, head of real estate debt strategies told Real Estate Capital in January.
MetLife Investment Management serves insurance companies, public and private pension plans and sovereign wealth funds. As well as originating commercial mortgages, the firm also invests in real estate equity and sources private placements for third party clients.
MetLife’s real estate investment group originated $14.3 billion in global CRE loans during 2015. The total surpassed 2014’s record high of $12.1 billion. MetLife originated more than $1.6 billion of CRE loans in the UK during 2015.
The company’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.