Gramercy Capital Forms Unit to Trade Real Estate Securities

Gramercy Capital Corp. (GKK), a U.S. commercial property lender formed in 2004 by SL Green Realty Corp., (SLG) said it created a real estate securities business to buy, trade and finance commercial mortgage-backed securities and related assets.

The company named Joseph Romano as senior vice president to head the new group, reporting to Hugh F. Hall, Gramercy's chief operating officer. Romano previously was a managing director at TIAA-CREF in New York where he was responsible for $23 billion of CMBS and real estate investment trust debt.

Gramercy said it will target investments of between $500 million and $1 billion that will include CMBS, REIT debt, credit default swaps and preferred securities.

``This is the right time in the company's evolution to launch its real estate debt securities platform,'' Marc Holliday, Gramercy's chief executive officer, said in a statement. ``Gramercy will now begin to transact within the vast market for real estate debt securities, providing a new source of earnings and enhancing the company's lending and trading businesses.''

New York-based Gramercy specializes in the origination and acquisition of first mortgages, subordinate mortgage participations, mezzanine loans, preferred equity and net lease investments involving commercial property in the U.S.

Shares of Gramercy rose 34 cents to $30.25 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares are up 24 percent in the past year, and up 34 percent with dividends reinvested.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hui-yong Yu in Seattle at hyu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Urban at robprag@bloomberg.net.

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