Harnack leaves Situs to launch adviser Castor Capital

The Situs Companies’ European boss has left the group after six years to set up Castor Capital, an adviser to buyers and sellers of direct property and real estate debt in the UK and Germany.

It will also help to refinance existing portfolios using debt capital market instruments. Nicolaus Harnack helped build Situs’s European business, originally the outsourced real estate adviser for Credit Suisse’s structured finance team. It later became a loan advisory business.

Formerly at CB Richard Ellis Investors, Harnack orchestrated Situs’s purchase of a primary and special servicing business in Germany from a joint venture between Ocwen and Merrill Lynch in 2009.

His role is likely to be divided between staff in Situs’s London office; the senior management will continue to rest with  chief executive and founding principal Ralph Howard.

With four or five partners from a structured finance background, who Harnack has worked with in the past, Castor is also in talks with a group of European and North American money managers to raise up to €100m of capital for a mezzanine fund in the same markets.

“Particularly in Germany, you do not need to go far up the risk curve to get an attractive junior debt position,” Harnack said. The firm is working on an acquisition mandate on behalf of an investor.

One of the partners Harnack hopes to work with is also negotiating with a German financial institution for Castor to provide portfolio restructuring and non-performing loan advisory work.