Wendy Cai-Lee, who heads consumer and business banking as well as the U.S. Eastern and Texas regions at East West Bank, has left the firm to start her own real estate debt-and-equity fund called Oenus Capital, sources told The Real Deal.
Cai-Lee left the bank in January and is planning to move back to the New York area full-time sometime in the spring to launch her firm, sources said. She had been dividing her time between the New York City area and Pasadena, California, where East West Bank is headquartered.
According to a new website created for the firm, Oenus Capital will focus on real estate, financial services, consumer projects and energy and other renewable resources – in the markets of New York City, Los Angeles and Beijing.
Johnny Lee, a vice president and associate counsel at global asset management firm OppenheimerFunds, appears to have already started working at Oenus Capital as a managing partner, his LinkedIn page shows. A source confirmed Lee is working with Cai-Lee to launch the fund.
Cai-Lee and a representative for the bank declined to comment.
Greg Guyett, who was named president and chief operating officer of East West Bank in October, is now overseeing New York commercial lending, sources said.
Cai-Lee joined East West Bank in 2011 after stints at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Deloitte. While she ran East West Bank’s commercial real estate lending practice, two of the most prominent recurring borrowers were the Chera family’s Crown Acquisitions and Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities.
East West Bank has a loan portfolio of $24.8 billion, with about $7.7 billion in commercial real estate debt nationwide. The New York region saw 23 percent loan growth in 2016 year-over-year.