Boutique investment banks expanding in wake of real estate crash

December 14, 2009 09:27AM

Boutique investment banks are expanding or popping up anew to fill a void in capital created by the real estate crash that left property owners and investors without many options for the impending $1.5 trillion in real estate loans expected to mature over the next five years. Firms like Moelis, Cantor Fitzgerald and Broadpoint Gleacher Securities Group are carving out a niche in helping their clients find a way out of bad debt by restructuring loans, finding capital and selling off assets. Newcomers to the market say their lack of “baggage” of the kind plaguing big institutions like Credit Suisse and others who were intimately involved in subprime lending, coupled with their small size, will prove advantageous. Many of the boutique firms are staffed with ex-Lehmanites, former Wachovia bankers, or other refugees of past main players, though, and these new firms are quickly expanding. Moelis has hired 100 new staffers over the past year, many of whom will help with its new real estate services, and brokerage CB Richard Ellis recently expanded its investment banking business, based in London, to America. [Crain’s]