Germany’s LBBW takes Cole from Santander as UK head

Senior Santander real estate finance director joins biggest landesban

John Cole has quit Santander to join Landesbank Baden Württemburg (LBBW) as the German bank’s new head of UK lending. Cole was appointed by LBBW earlier this month but is on three months’ gardening leave.

At Santander Corporate Banking he was one of the most senior directors in head of real estate finance Susan Geddes’s UK originating team. He was recruited by Geddes in 2008 when she was building up the property lending business. They had previously worked together at Bank of Scotland.

LBBW has been one of the least active German lenders in the UK in the past two years. Since Tim Pygott left last year to go to Deutsche Hypo, the London contact has been Stuttgart-based Patrick Walcher.

But it has supported pan-European clients investing here and elsewhere in Europe, such as Hines. Ross Blair, Hines’ UK managing director, said: “It is  very focused on relationships.” The bank lent on two Birmingham acquisitions for the US fund manager: eight properties at Brindleyplace, and the much smaller 111 Edmund Street.

LBBW was also the single lender to Korea’s National Pension Service when it bought Sony’s headquarters in Berlin from Morgan Stanley for about £570m, advised by Hines. LBBW is said to consider the UK a core market and to wish to up its exposure.

LBBW is Germany’s biggest landesbank and had significant Greek debt exposure. It also has a legacy book from before the financial crisis, when it was in 20 real estate markets.

It sold its German multi-family housing business to Patrizia Group last month, the sale being a European Union condition for it receiving a €5bn bailout from the state of Baden Württemburg during the crisis. It continues to lend to the multi-family housing market and recently helped refinance the borrower to the Immeo 2 CMBS.