Bank of China emerges as major player on U.S. commercial real estate scene

January 20, 2010 05:36PM

While most U.S. banks are still tightening their credit as they reel from commercial real estate losses, foreign banks — in particular, Bank of China — are stepping in to fill the gaps in debt financing. Data from CB Richard Ellis reveals that foreign banks are currently providing more than 60 percent of all commercial real estate debt financing in the country, and Bank of China, which in September granted a $120 million loan to W.P. Carey for 750,000 square feet at the New York Times Building, is coming forward as one of the major players on that scene. Unlike most lenders, which tend to shy away from commitments of more than $50 million to $100 million, Bank of China is deliberately on the hunt for loans of this magnitude, and it doesn’t try to unload them immediately, either. “We have relationships with real estate companies,” said Xiaojing Li, the general manager for Bank of China in the U.S. “Because we keep these loans, they know who they are dealing with.” When SL Green Realty refinanced its Times Square office tower at 1515 Broadway for $475 million — in what The Real Deal columnist Michael Stoler wrote earlier this month was one of the largest financings by a bank syndicate over the past year and a half — Bank of China led the group by putting more than half of that $475 million on its books.