The firm hired Qatar National Bank relationship manager Arthur Jennings as head of development finance – a newly-created position – and former Lloyds Bank commercial real estate analyst Nikos Yerolemou as senior analyst.
It said the appointments were part of its plans to grow the business in the south and further hires to the team would be announced in the coming months.
Jennings, who will report to chief executive Colin Sanders (pictured), will have overall responsibility for the management and monitoring of Fortwell’s development finance portfolio. He will also be in charge of the underwriting of all new transactions.
Yerolemou will support Jennings at all stages of the funding process, as well as carrying out detailed analysis of all projects.
Fortwell Capital provides high-value short and medium-term finance for the unregulated real estate market. The firm was previously known as Omni Capital Partners but was rebranded in February by its parent company CPC Group. The group still owns a retail finance division, lending to UK retailers under the Omni brand.
Jennings said he had been attracted to the role because of the opportunities it presented outside of the highly-regulated banking sector.
He said: “I’ve worked in banking for over 10 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.”
Fortwell made a raft of changes to its lending criteria in recent months. For instance, it scrapped its ceiling for development finance loans, saying it wanted to take a flexible approach to its deal writing. It also increased its maximum loan-to-gross development value from 70% to 75%.
In the bridging space, it made finance available from £3m upwards, while some interest rates were reduced to 0.65% per month. Minimum property valuations were increased.
Sanders said: “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.”