Global financial services firm Knight Capital Group has launched a commercial real estate finance platform that will securitize leases from sale-leasebacks and other agreements. The new platform will piggyback on Knight’s existing asset-backed and mortgage-backed securities business. To that end, the New Jersey-headquartered group will market the new products to the firm’s existing 2,000 investors. “There is a dearth of financing in the real estate market, the CMBS market is restrained at best and there is almost a complete absence of construction financing,” explained Winston van Buitenen, managing director, commercial real estate finance. “But if there is a presence of a lease, or a tenant is willing to sign a long-term lease, we can provide capital instead of taking out a first mortgage.”
With the expansion well under way, Knight has brought on two new executives to lead the build out. Barry Funt has joined from Natixis and van Buitenen has joined from Allegiance Investment Advisors. The duo was brought on as managing directors for commercial real estate finance and will be responsible for sourcing, executing and marketing the new real estate deals. “We will take the deals from cradle to grave,” van Buitenen added.
The duo feels that the existing ABS/MBS platform will provide ample opportunities to grow the new, real estate arm of the firm. “When you have the breadth of investors you are able to generate internal markets that create pricing efficiencies,” noted van Buitenen. The new platform will also rely on Knight’s research department to help analyze possible deals.
“Ultimately what attracted us was the large investor base and the loans we are working with, which don’t fit well in the CMBS world, because they are longer-term and are special use projects,” noted Funt.
The new platform will cater to deals of all sizes and can structure taxable, as well as tax-exempt financings.