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CCRE is led by an experienced team of real estate professionals, the majority of whom have worked together in the past. CCRE's Senior Managers have extensive track records originating, underwriting, structuring, managing and securitizing commercial real estate loans in various economic cycles.

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GlobeSt.com

Orso Pushes Cantor Fitzgerald Into Finance Venture

August 13, 2010

By Paul Bubny

NEW YORK CITY-To Anthony Orso, now is the time to get into commercial real estate finance on a large scale. He's spearheading a lending platform in which his employer, Cantor Fitzgerald, and Los Angeles-based CIM Group are co-general partners. Known as Cantor Commercial Real Estate, the venture will originate and securitize fixed- and floating-rate mortgages and mezzanine loans secured by diverse real estate assets, mainly in major US markets. It's initially targeting annualized loan production of approximately $5 billion.

Orso, executive managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald and CEO of CCRE, cites three key factors in the timing of the launch. "Number one, the real estate market, by and large, has stabilized from a valuation standpoint around the country," he tells GlobeSt.com.

Second, Orso says, "there's significant demand from the institutional, fixed income investors." He cites the positive reception the investment community has given to new issues of CMBS this year. Cantor Fitzgerald serves more than 2,500 fixed-income clients, "and we have heard very strongly from those investors, domestically and globally."

Third, CCRE has assembled what Orso calls a "great team" that includes real estate finance veterans from Credit Suisse "and some of the other leading CMBS shops." Along with Orso, CCRE's founding partners also include Steve Kantor and Michael Lehrman. The three worked together for about 10 years managing Credit Suisse's real estate lending and distribution platform before joining Cantor Fitzgerald.

Borrowers, too, have clearer objectives than they did following the capital markets meltdown of late 2008. "If you rolled back the clock 18 to 24 months, people weren't sure how far real estate values were going to drop or if there would be any lenders whatsoever in the marketplace," says Orso. "Now that there are lenders coming back into the marketplace, and people like ourselves getting into commercial lending for the first time, people believe there are financing options." That's no small consideration as owners face the prospect of refinancing approximately $1.4 trillion of commercial real estate debt that's due to mature over the next four to five years.

Additionally, industry players now see values "starting to creep back up," Orso says. "They're not going to appreciate as quickly as they did between 2003 and 2007," but the perception is that an uptick "has occurred or is coming."

Recent CMBS issuances have been in line with the more conservative deals that preceded that '03-'07 market peak, and Orso says that borrowers can expect CCRE to follow suit. "Our underwriting standards are going to reflect early-2000 standards," he says. Rolling back the clock to that era, he says, gives institutional investors the confidence they need to buy the paper.

CCRE will look to provide mortgage financing in all of the major food groups, led by office, Orso says. Lending to develop and build new projects isn't on the horizon, though, even as the market eventually begins to support new construction once again. "I don't foresee that being part of the business plan."

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