“Big Loan” problem at Wachovia

October 3, 2007

11.jpgSo who is “Big Loan” Verrone? 
We first bumped into him while looking into Lightstone’s $8 billion purchase of Extended Stay from Blackstone, which has a press release on its website saying that lead mortgage financing for the deal was provided by “Rob ‘Big Loan’ Verrone” of Wachovia.  
Intrigued, we found that Big Loan last month was named as co-head of Wachovia’s Real Estate Americas group . And he goes by “Large Loan” too — as in a 2006 Wall Street Journal article titled The Tough Guy of Mortgages Boosts Wachovia, which says Verrone is known for his “irreverent, tough-guy demeanor, and for quoting lines from ‘The Godfather’ in deal negotiations.” 

Wachovia declined to comment on the WSJ article, Verrone’s monikers or the press release on Blackstone’s website, although the public relations company that issued the press release said names were provided by Lightstone.

Big Loan has done quite a job building Wachovia’s commercial mortgage backed securities business — the bank more than doubled the amount of loans it placed in CMBS during the first half of this year, at $18.23 billion from $8.89 billion in the same period of last year.     
Did “Big Loan” make some of its clients an offer they couldn’t refuse? If he did, there may be some regrets now. Some rival bankers called Wachovia “reckless” in building its CMBS market share and say it is now sitting on billions of property debt that investors find too risky. Wachovia declined to comment on this as well.
But given the CMBS market shows little signs of coming out of a funk anytime soon, Verrone’s big loans may be with him for a while. 

(Image credit: The Godfather)

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