High finance has set up shop in Oklahoma City, where big-deal makers are long used to looking long-distance to Wall Street and other financial centers for real estate investment capital.
CBRE Group Inc. has brought its CB Richard Ellis Capital Markets Debt & Equity Finance Group to town, opening an office downtown to provide financial services for private and institutional investors in office, industrial, retail and multifamily properties.
Chris Dunning, formerly with MidFirst Bank in Oklahoma City, and Thomas (T.K.) Klein, formerly with Johnson Capital's office in La Jolla, Calif., comanage the new office as senior vice presidents of the Debt & Equity Finance Group.
CB Richard Ellis Capital Markets “is the most extensive network of real estate financing sources in the country,” Dunning said, from Wall Street to life insurance companies, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Every major city in the U.S. has an office,” he said. “Oklahoma City is now on the map in their eyes with the launch of the Oklahoma City office. This should prove to be a significant boost to local developers and owners.”
Dunning focused on commercial real estate financing for MidFirst. Klein most recently specialized in debt and equity placement for Johnson Capital. Previously, he cofounded a community bank in Colorado and was a director of it for 10 years, and was president and CEO of a Colorado-based home mortgage banking firm.
“The addition of T.K. and Chris to CBRE Capital Markets allows us to enhance our value proposition and grow our client base in the Oklahoma market,” said Brian Stoffers, president of Debt & Equity Finance.
“Their local market knowledge, valuable experience in the banking world and strong industry relationships will bolster our service offering in that region.”
CBRE Debt & Equity Finance quietly opened in November, in temporary offices on the 24th floor of City Place, 204 N Robinson Ave. Dunning said the immediate task is networking and “telling the story” that capital is not only accessible in Oklahoma City from afar — but from its central business district.
“A lot of people in Oklahoma City aren't that familiar with the capital markets side of the business. It's a big-city thing,” Dunning said.
Big names in finance come up here only with the largest and most complex transactions and those involving institutional investors with portfolios consistently large enough to involve high finance as a matter of course.
Big names such as Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago, Goldman Sachs and Cushman & Wakefield in New York, Credit Suisse, based in Zurich, and others finance big investments here are relatively rarely. However, with the city muscling its way through the recession and poised to enjoy the first fruits of economy recovery, those “big city” players could become more common.
CBRE Capital Markets can be seen as opening the way to Oklahoma City for other national and global specialists in debt placement and equity finance for commercial property.
The move directly by CB Richard Ellis' corporate office — this is not an expansion of CB Richard Ellis-Oklahoma, a franchise — extends financial centers on both coasts to Oklahoma.
CB Richard Ellis is based in Los Angeles, and CBRE Capital Markets is based in New York City.
“There is always going to be a bias toward the coastal cities,” longtime Oklahoma City realty executive Ford Price said, but opening a corporate office with specialists concentrating on the city “shows how Oklahoma City has moved up the food chain in terms of how it is perceived by out-of-state investors, and especially institutional investors.”
“Oklahoma City is starting to get rated up there in a way it never has been before,” said Price, managing partner of Price Edwards & Co.
It bodes well for Oklahoma City's fortunes and perception among investors, financiers and other national movers and shakers in commercial real estate investment.
CB Richard Ellis Debt & Equity Finance provides permanent financing, bridge loans, construction financing, joint venture equity, loan servicing, mezzanine debt, structured equity and tenant-in-common financing.
“People are hunting for yields, and there is still so much real estate capital out there looking for a home” that Oklahoma City is more attractive than ever, Price said.