Richard Jennings, Ex-Goldman Mortgage Loan Head, Dies at 72

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  • Oversaw investment bank's REIT business for almost two decades
  • Started Realty Capital International in New York in 1991

Richard Jennings, who founded and led the mortgage-finance group at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and went on to start his own real estate investment-banking firm, has died. He was 72.

Richard Jennings
Richard Jennings
Source: Alexandria Real Estate Equities

He died Feb. 28 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, his wife, Nancy Jennings, said Friday in a telephone interview.

During an almost 20-year career at New York-based Goldman Sachs, which in 1999 became Goldman Sachs Group Inc., he oversaw its real estate investment trust investment-banking operation. In 1991, he founded Realty Capital International, serving as president of the firm, also in New York, and working alongside his daughter, Sally Jennings.

Realty Capital has managed more than $9 billion of transactions, including joint-venture equity, project finance and REIT initial public offerings, according to its website. Clients have included SL Green Realty Corp., Mitsui Fudosan Co. and Boston Properties Inc.

In 1979, a decade into his tenure at Goldman Sachs, he began its mortgage-finance group, according to a profile on the website of Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., where he had been lead director since 2007.

‘Insightful’ Adviser

“He was a real down-to-earth, decent person,” Joel Marcus, chief executive officer at Pasadena, California-based Alexandria Real Estate, said Thursday in a telephone interview. “He was also reserved, but when he spoke, people paid attention. His ability to have insightful thoughts about key issues that public companies face was kind of a hallmark of his person.”

For three years ending in 1989, he was managing director of real estate finance at Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., the New York firm that later collapsed under the weight of former junk bond king Michael Milken. Jennings then served as senior vice president at Landauer Real Estate Counselors in New York prior to starting Realty Capital.

Early Life

Richard Baker Jennings was born Nov. 26, 1943, in New York to Milton and Ruth Jennings. He graduated from the Riverdale Country School in the Bronx in 1961. While attending Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, he was awarded a Corning Glass Works Foundation Traveling Fellowship, allowing him to study for a year in Europe and Asia.

He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale in 1965 with the distinction of magna cum laude, and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in Boston in 1968.

A basketball player as a youngster, he took up tennis later in life, playing with friends in Quogue, on Long Island, his wife said. Admiring fine art was another passion. “Our Friday night dates were at the Metropolitan Museum,” she said. “He loved the American Wing and Chinese landscape paintings, and even collected some scrolls.”

Jennings served on the boards of Orlando, Florida-based National Retail Properties Inc. and New York’s Terra Capital Partners, among others.

“He was a good friend, a highly respected real-estate professional and a valued board member,” Bruce Batkin, CEO of Terra Capital, said Monday in a note to the firm. “I had known Rich for over 30 years, and he never failed to impress with his breadth of knowledge, range of personal and professional relationships and unimpeachable ethics.”

In addition to his wife of 46 years, Nancy Steeger Jennings, a Presbyterian minister, Jennings is survived by three daughters, Sally Jennings, Anne Jennings Staebler and Victoria Jennings Diamond; his twin brother, John, and sister, Ellen Jennings Giusti; son-in-laws, Ned Staebler and Robert Diamond; and four grandchildren.

(Updates with Nancy Jennings' comments in second and 10th paragraphs.)
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