Fortwell Capital strengthens development finance team

By -

Fortwell Capital, the high-value short and medium-term real estate lender, has announced two senior-level appointments to its expanding team of development finance specialists.

With immediate effect, Arthur Jennings is appointed to the newly-created position of head of development finance and Nikos Yerolemou to the position of senior analyst – development finance.

Yerolemou reports to Jennings, and Jennings to the specialist lender’s chief executive officer, Colin Sanders. Both are based in Fortwell Capital’s new operations centre in Knightsbridge, London SW1.

In his new role, Jennings has overall responsibility for the management and monitoring of the lender’s development finance portfolio. He is also chiefly responsible for the underwriting of all new transactions.

He will work closely with Fortwell Capital’s sales team and its sales director, Martin Gilsenan, to identify and acquire funding opportunities that match the lender’s strategical and financial objectives.

Once a transaction has been successfully secured, Jennings and his team will manage it through its entire life cycle – from structuring, execution, ongoing management to redemption.

Jennings brings to Fortwell Capital deep experience gained in senior real estate appointments. Prior to joining the lender, he was relationship manager at Qatar National Bank in London and before that held a variety of positions at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Commenting on his appointment, Jennings said:

“I’ve worked in banking for over ten years, mainly in real estate finance. I’m passionate about the sector, but bank lending has become very tightly regulated and vanilla in nature. Fortwell’s offering attracted me because of its skilled individuals and the support it receives from its parent business, CPC Group. These unique factors enable Fortwell to pursue opportunities others cannot. My task now is to build on this to help the business grow exponentially during the next important phase of its evolution.”

Yerolemou was previously an analyst with Lloyds Banking Group’s Commercial Real Estate division and is a graduate of Cambridge University. He attended Cambridge Judge Business School for a year after graduating.

His principal responsibility is to provide the business with state-of-the-art transactional modelling. In addition, he will support the head of development finance at all stages of the funding process, including scheme analysis, on-site visits, production of terms, and project monitoring.

Yerolemou said:

“The move to Fortwell appealed because I wanted a role that combines greater personal and professional responsibility with an opportunity to take ownership of complex real estate funding transactions from their start to finish. Fortwell offers me this, and in what promises to be an exciting new era for the development finance sector and for entrepreneurial lenders in particular, I’m relishing the part I’ve been given to play.”

Jennings added that he will be making further appointments to his team over the coming months and will announce details in due course.

In addition to its recent move to new, long-term premises in Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, Fortwell Capital has made a number of changes to its lending criteria. Bridging finance is now available in amounts from £3 million upwards. Some interest rates have been reduced and now start for qualifying transactions at 0.65% per month. Minimum property valuations have been increased.

For development finance, the minimum loan remains as £5 million but now with no formal maximum. The lender said it will always take a flexible approach to proposals regardless of their value above the minimum requirement.

Fortwell Capital also confirmed it has increased its maximum loan-to-gross development value (GDV) from 70% to 75%.

Colin Sanders, chief executive officer, observed:

“The positive changes we have introduced to the business in recent months – from investment in skilled, senior-level personnel to product enhancements, our re-naming and an expensive office relocation – reflect our long-term confidence in the UK’s real estate financing sector and our part in it.

“We believe the next few years will reveal superb opportunities for securely-funded, nimble lenders able to strike the right balance between risk and reward. Our focus in this regard will remain firmly on London and the wider South-East region. It is the area we understand best, and which we judge will continue to offer the best returns over the medium- to long-term for high-value specialists such as ourselves.”