09/18/2009

Ex-Credit Suisse Pros to Lead Cantor Foray

Cantor Fitzgerald has hired four former senior executives of Credit Suisse, including Steven Kantor, to oversee a major push into commercial real estate.

The New York investment bank plans to hire a whopping 130 people to staff the effort. In addition to expanding its commercial and residential MBS trading activities, Cantor will set up a real estate investment banking operation, form a real estate lending and securitization group, and establish a real estate venture capital business.

The push will be directed by Kantor and three other former Credit Suisse executives: Michael Lehrman, Anthony Orso and Lawrence Britvan. All were named senior partners of Cantor and BGC Partners, a public subsidiary of Cantor. They joined last month.

Kantor held a number of senior positions at Credit Suisse and predecessor Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. In recent years, he was co-head of global securities, which included oversight of the real estate finance group. He gave up that post in February, while continuing as co-head of the illiquid-alternatives unit in the alternative-investments division. He resigned from Credit Suisse in July.

Lehrman and Orso were longtime co-heads of commercial MBS origination at Credit Suisse, while Britvan was in the CMBS group. They also resigned in July.

Four other former Credit Suisse staffers have also joined Cantor: Matt Brody, Paul Fine, Keith Padien and Jesse Zarouk.

The initial team will soon grow significantly. The 130 hires contemplated by Cantor will be divided among different areas of the firm, but will all report to the Kantor team. About 100 people will be added to the existing fixed-income division. Most of them will focus on expanding the trading of CMBS and residential MBS. The others will trade corporate and high-yield securities. Meanwhile, about 30 people will be hired under the umbrella of the global investment-banking unit. They will work in a new real estate investment banking group. Those staffers will initially focus on restructuring assignments for corporate entities and debt in the real estate, hotel and gambling sectors.

Cantor also plans to expand into two other real estate areas: lending/securitization and venture capital. The company declined to elaborate on those efforts.

Cantor tiptoed into the real estate sector late last year when it hired former Bank of America CMBS trader Geordie Walker to help expand its trading operation.

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