Starwood Property Trust is in talks to sell European real estate loan servicing and debt advisory firm Hatfield Philips International (HPI), which is led by chief executive Blair Lewis (pictured), according to an article by Bloomberg.
The preferred bidder to buy the company is rival loan servicer, Situs, the report said, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The deal to sell HPI has not been closed, Bloomberg added.
HPI, which was founded in 1997 and is a subsidiary of LNR Property, is a primary and secondary loan servicer and real estate debt advisory firm. It also provides non-performing loan underwriting and co-investment. The firm has more than 110 employees in real estate finance, work-out, debt servicing and client services roles, based in London, Frankfurt and Madrid.
HPI has £11.3 billion of loans under management across more than 15 countries. In the last five years, it has underwritten 72 NPL deals with a face value of around £65.4 billion.
Starwood Property Trust bought LNR Property for $1.05 billion in January 2013. As part of the deal, Starwood acquired LNR Europe, which consisted of Hatfield Philips and CRE debt fund LNR European Investment Fund, plus a 50 percent stake in Auction.com, a real estate exchange.
LNR, which was founded in 1969, is a real estate investment, finance, management and development firm with offices in the US and Europe. At the time, Starwood said that the deal established Starwood Property Trust as a full service real estate finance company, expanding its business lines to include CMBS securities and special servicing, which the firm described as counter-cyclical investments which provide a “natural hedge in a variety of economic scenarios”.
Situs, the front-runner to buy HPI according to Bloomberg, was acquired by US firm Stone Point Capital last April and has offices across the US and Europe. It is led by company president Bruce Nelson and CEO Steve Powel.
Last April, it launched its European Capital Solutions business, headed by former Deutsche Bank investment banker Don Belanger. Stone Point Capital is aiming to broaden the business, which also includes primary and secondary loan servicing, asset management, loan diligence and underwriting.