By Sarah Trefethen
CBRE’s newest hire is ready to make up the difference in the firm’s share of New York’s debt and equities market.
Shawn Rosenthal joined CBRE’s New York office this month, after 12 years with the Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group.
“I thought it was one of the very few unique opportunities to use my background, my relationships in the debt and equity business,and combine it with a global platform,” Rosenthal told Real Estate Weekly of the move.
“CBRE is prolific in almost everything in New York — leasing, management, sales — but for whatever reason, the debt and equities team here in New York has a lot of room for growth.”
Rosenthal specializes in mezzanine financing, higher interest loans that can increase the leverage on a property from the 60 or 65 percent offered by standard mortgage lenders to as much as 80 or 85 percent.
He even contributed a chapter on the topic to “Handbook – Real Estate Capital Markets,” a text book popular in European business schools. In 2008, Rosenthal arranged $700 million of debt and equity financing for Ashkenazy Aqusitions and The Carlyle Group’s $680 million purchase of 650 Madison Avenue, a deal that landed third place in the Real Estate Board of New York’s Edward S. Gordon Memorial “Most Ingenious Deal of the Year” Award.
“There were a lot of moving parts … it was one of the most complex, high-profile deals that I’ve ever worked on,” Rosenthal said.
In 2012, he arranged seven transactions, including a $400 million refinancing of 452 Fifth Avenue.
In totoal while at Ackman-Ziff he closed more than 90 transactions in excess of $3.9 billion, including deals at 1412 Broadway and 4 New York Plaza; 1211 Connecticut Avenue, in Washington, DC, and The Waterfront at Pu’uloa, in Hawaii.
Today Rosenthal sees the real estate market at a particularly strong point in its natural cycle, with lenders eager to make loans and interest rates which are inching up but still, in historic terms, very low.
“There’s a huge amount of capital out there chasing transactions, pushing up prices,” he said, but lenders are remaining responsible, without “rampant aggressiveness.”
Lenders are generally interested in properties with cash flow in place, he said, and while spreads have started to compress somewhat, the market is still not seeing 85 or 90 percent in most cases.
“Most people don’t think interest rates are going to be this low for the long term, and I think people need to just keep that in mind as they’re making lending and investing decisions,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal was born in West Hempstead, Long Island, and currently lives in Woodmear with his wife of 20 years and their three children. In his spare time, he enjoys golf and roller hockey.
Rosenthal studied accounting and economics at Queens College and worked as an accountant for six months before attending Law School at NYU. He practiced real estate law at Thacher Proffitt and Wood for two years, but says he always knew he was interested in the business side of real estate. He does credit his law background with helping him structure complicated mezzanine and preferred equity deals.
Rosenthal’s new title at CBRE is executive vice president.
“Shawn is a proven financing professional who has negotiated high-profile transactions with BlackRock and many notable private equity firms, as well as the Harbor Group and other sophisticated private real estate companies,” Matthew Van Buren, president, New York TriState Region, CBRE, said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that he has chosen CBRE’s global platform to expand his work. We’re confident that he will be a valuable addition to our firm.”