Torchlight hires Carlyle, KKR execs – Exclusive

The New York-based real estate debt fund manager has brought aboard a new chief operations officer and a senior capital raiser in the past two months.

Torchlight Investors has poached two senior executives from The Carlyle Group and KKR to round out its operations and investor relations teams, PERE has learned.

Felipe Dorregaray joined last month as chief operations officer, part of the four-person leadership team in the firm’s financial control and operations group. He replaces Sanford Weintraub, a 45-year industry veteran who had served in the role for two years before retiring earlier this year.

Dorregaray previously was chief financial officer and chief compliance officer at Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management, the indirect real estate investment arm of private equity firm The Carlyle Group. In his previous roles, he was responsible for finance and administration and supported all aspects of the firm’s fund management activities including investments, client service, and regulatory compliance. He worked with the firm for 17 years, beginning as vice president of Metropolitan’s predecessor entity, D. Sherman & Company. Metropolitan is understood to be a longtime investor of Torchlight.

Meanwhile, Angela Johnson has been recruited as a senior vice president within Torchlight’s investor relations group. Before Torchlight, Johnson worked for four years as a real estate product specialist at KKR and prior to that, held roles at Partners Group, RLJ Development and Merrill Lynch.

Torchlight is currently in the market with Torchlight Debt Opportunity Fund VI, which has a net return target of 12-15 percent and will seek high-yield investments across all real estate debt strategies including first-lien commercial mortgages, CMBS, mezzanine loans and commercial real estate backed collateralized loan obligations, according to documents from the Nebraska Investment Council.

The new hires follow a number of senior departures last year, including managing director Steve Schwartz, who had been with Torchlight for six years and most recently co-led the firm’s CMBS platform, and managing director and portfolio manager Bill Stasiulatis, who had been with the firm for 20 years. Schwartz joined HIG Bayside Capital last September as head of US distressed commercial real estate. The firm currently has no plans to replace Schwartz, with current senior professionals taking on his responsibilities, the NIC documents said.

Torchlight has 48 investment staff led by founder, chief executive and co-chief investment officer Daniel Heflin, according to the NIC documents.

The firm has $4.1 billion of assets under management across a range of US commercial real estate strategies, including mortgages and mezzanine loans, preferred equity, equity and commercial mortgage-backed securities.