Wells Fargo & Co. is plunging back into the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market that helped fell Wachovia Corp., the bank it bought in 2008 for $12.7 billion, Bloomberg reported.
Wells Fargo added more than 20 bankers and support personnel during the past three months to increase loan originations and bundle them into CMBS, said Ed Blakey, who’s leading the effort with John Shrewsberry.
“We believe there is going to be a resurgence of CMBS, and we are investing in anticipation of it,” Blakey, head of commercial mortgage lending and servicing, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Our pipeline is growing, and we intend to be a leader of this market.”
Wells Fargo is pushing ahead in a market Wachovia controlled before it reported more than $2.1 billion of losses tied to CMBS in 2007 and 2008. Wachovia was the No. 1 underwriter from 2005 to 2007, with $81 billion of commercial mortgage-backed bonds, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Wachovia, based in Charlotte, N.C., structured the largest CMBS deal in history, a $7.9 billion bond that included financing for the 2006 purchase of Stuyvesant Town- Peter Cooper Village, Manhattan’s largest apartment complex. The buyers ceded control of the property earlier this year after failing to make debt payments.
Other deals made at the height of the market also have gone sour. Late payments on CMBS rose to a record 8.25 percent as of July, compared with 3.04 percent a year earlier, according to Fitch Ratings.
Commercial property values have declined 39 percent from their 2007 peak, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The decline has made underwriting loans less risky, and banks can dictate more conservative terms and choose the most creditworthy borrowers, said Shrewsberry, head of Wells Fargo's securities and investment group.
“It’s a nice time to be originating loans, because you’re at a lower price point on the collateral, you can impose the right structure and there isn’t the frenzied competition” of a few years ago, Shrewsberry said.