Cantor Fitzgerald has established a real estate investment group, Cantor Real Estate, to be spearheaded by former WCI Communities president Andrew Stark who joins the firm as executive managing director. The group is planning a real estate opportunity fund, which according to reports is targeting $350 million (€227million), which will focus on opportunistic investments across property sectors, including dislocated assets.
Howard Lutnick, Cantor Fitzgerald chairman and chief executive officer said in a statement that it viewed the “current real estate environment as providing significant opportunities to take advantage of value-add investments and developments.”
Stark added that current market conditions were prompting “some owners/developers of residential and commercial properties to focus on capital preservation, while lenders are faced with the need to evaluate and monetize their real estate/construction portfolios.” The firm, he said, was well-positioned to “create solutions for real estate assets that can substantially unleash stalled intrinsic value.”
Stark, who began his career as a real estate attorney at Lord Day & Lord, Barrett Smith, was previously president of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of WCI Communities, where he acquired almost 5,000 residential units and more than $1 billion in finance from domestic and international institutions.
Prior to that, Stark worked at Halpern Real Estate Development, providing financial and legal counsel on a range of commercial and residential projects, including a merger with REIT Reckson Associates. At Reckson, Stark launched an opportunity fund which acquired properties in the student housing, office suite and other niche real estate sectors.
The announcement comes at the same time as investment bank Keefe Bruyette Woods is expanding into the sector by launching a real estate investment banking unit assisting companies with “public and private capital needs.” KBW has hired Michael Hawkins, Robert Woomer and Christopher Hanley from Wachovia Securities to help grow the platform. The real estate unit will be headed by John Dalena.