Former Starwood execs mulling new debt business

Fellows and de Hann set to launch real estate financing platform.

Former Starwood Property Trust executives Boyd Fellows and Warren de Haan are drawing up plans to launch a new lending business as early as next month, PDI sister title, Real Estate Capital has learned.

The platform would originate loans out of a portfolio made up of private capital, and it could also underwrite and broker loans as an intermediary, sources said.

Fellows, who joined Starwood in 2010 to develop its loan origination business, resigned as president in September, eluding mainstream headlines but surprising many industry insiders. Departing with him was de Haan, former chief originations officer at Starwood, who had previously worked alongside Fellows at Countrywide Financial Corporation and Coastal Capital Partners.

“They’ve been in the business a long time and are very good loan originators and credit people, and I liked dealing with them even though they were competitors,” one lender said. “They did a great job at Starwood and I’m not sure why they exited.”

Starwood, the nation’s largest commercial mortgage REIT, has made a name for itself in part by backing transitional assets. Fellows and de Haan could naturally gravitate toward that space, though it has become increasingly competitive and complex as lenders seek superior risk-adjusted returns.

“I’m sure they are out there speaking to people,” the lender said. “They just have to convince someone that has real money to help them be successful. That’s what this business is all about.”

Starwood manages more than $29 billion in assets, making loans of between $30 million and $500 million-plus. In November 2013 the firm spun-off a separate public REIT, which in December of last year issued its first securitisation collateralised by single-family homes.

Jeffrey DiModica, most recently head of MBS/ABS and CMBS sales and strategy for the Americas at RBS, replaced Fellows at Starwood in September, and Christian Dalzell replaced de Haan. Fellows remains on the firm’s board of directors.

Starwood declined comment, and Fellows and de Haan could not be reached in time for publication.