continues to wrestle with massive writedowns and layoffs related to the imploding of subprime loans on its balance sheet, at least one former executive is moving on to brighter pastures.
Brian Harris, a top executive at UBS' now-closed hedge fund Dillon Read Capital Management, is launching his own investment fund,
Harris, who was responsible for the commercial real estate lending business and not the subprime residential problems at Dillon Read, is raising money for his new fund, called Ladder Capital, a person familiar with the matter tells
UBS closed Dillon Read in a high-profile shutdown in May 2007. At the time, Dillon Read had already lost $124 million on its portfolio of subprime residential loans. Dillon Read managed about $1.2 billion of outside investor money and several billion more of UBS funds.
Harris' deals at Dillon Read, however, focused on commercial real estate and not subprime residential loans. While there, he specialized in originating high loan-to-value bridge loans at high lending rates for commercial real estate transactions. These loans were securitized and placed into CMBS and CDO deals.
Ladder Capital will presumably focus on these same types of investments, sources say.
The commercial real estate loan book that Harris originated at Dillon Read has probably run into some issues lately but is generally in far better shape than the subprime residential loans to which Dillon Read had exposure, says one private equity official at a rival firm who has looked at some of Harris' deals.
"I'm not surprised to see Brian coming back," says the private equity source. "Brian is a very smart guy. He made a lot of money. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if he just went to the beach either."
It is not clear how many funds Ladder Capital is targeting to raise, but the firm appears to be in the advanced stages of a launch since it is currently searching for a chief financial officer, another industry source says.
Harris previously ran the global commercial real estate lending group at UBS prior to switching to the Dillon Read division. Before UBS, he was a senior executive in the commercial real estate finance group at Credit Suisse.
Harris could not be reached for comment. A UBS spokesperson confirmed that he left the firm last year.
UBS, meanwhile, continues to report some of the largest losses related to subprime loans of any investment bank. On Tuesday, the Zurich-based bank reported a $331 million loss and recorded $5.1 billion in fresh writedowns of loans held on its balance sheet.
Fellow financial giant
spooked investors late Monday when it said in a regulatory filing that it expects to write off $1.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities in the third quarter, due to the continued deterioration in the credit markets.
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