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May 11, 2018  

TIAA Unit Taps Acore Exec as Lending Chief

Continuing to reshape its staff as it expands its focus, TIAA unit TH Real Estate has hired veteran lender Jason Hernandez as head of originations in the U.S.

Hernandez spent the past three years at Acore Capital, where he was a managing director based in New York. His duties there included sourcing and originating mortgages. During a previous 11-year stint at GE Capital Real Estate, he was a senior director in the strategic capital group.

TH Real Estate is increasing its emphasis on the management of higher-yielding investments for third parties, in addition to TIAA’s own holdings. That has led to dozens of departures and hirings over the past couple of years.

Just three weeks ago, TH Real Estate parted ways with Hernandez’s predecessor, Ted Norman, along with senior director William Lane and about 10 mid-level or junior personnel involved in research.

Jack Gay, TH Real Estate’s global head of commercial real estate debt, said his shop has recently seen a sharp uptick in investment-management business from pension systems, Asian investors and others. As a result, it has expanded its menu of debt products, encompassing different risk/return profiles, shorter-term durations and higher yields. Hernandez’s background includes both institutional lending at GE and higher-yield investments at Acore.

In line with the strategy shift, Shanthi Pothacamury joined in September as a managing director and head of U.S. capital markets and structured finance. Pothacamury oversees the origination of loans on transitional properties and the syndication of senior debt. He was formerly at Andy Stone’s high-yield shop, Petra Capital, and previously had worked at UBS and J.P. Morgan.

Gay said the broader strategy was also driven in part by market conditions. For example, there is growing demand for short-term debt from owners seeking to stabilize their properties.

At the same time, he said, TH Real Estate is continuing to actively line up long-term, fixed-rate loans for TIAA. “We still have as large an appetite as we ever did for the general-account traditional investing that we’ve done,” he said. “We’re just expanding the platform to serve a broader range of mandates.”

Last year, TIAA was the top insurance-company originator of commercial mortgages, according to an annual survey by Commercial Mortgage Alert. It wrote $6.7 billion of loans, nearly double the $3.4 billion tally in 2016. Gay said the company is on track to exceed that volume this year. ?