NEW YORK (May 6, 2013) – Morrison & Foerster today announced that Lawrence A. Ceriello, a highly experienced real estate finance practitioner with significant expertise in originating loans backing commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS), has joined the firm's Real Estate Finance Group in New York as a partner.
Mr. Ceriello advises commercial lenders, investment banks, life insurers, hedge funds and others in major real estate transactions, particularly those involving complex debt financings and securitizations. He brings to MoFo over two decades of experience originating large commercial real estate loans, with an emphasis on loans destined for the CMBS market. He has extensive experience handling mezzanine debt and workouts of distressed real estate, as well as equity investments and the purchase, sale, restructuring and foreclosure of performing and non-performing commercial mortgage and mezzanine loans.
According to Mark S. Edelstein, chair of MoFo's Real Estate Finance and Distressed Real Estate practices, the addition of Mr. Ceriello comes at an opportune time as the pace of the recovery of the commercial real estate market continues to gather steam.
"Larry's broad finance experience is a perfect fit for us," said Mr. Edelstein. "The lending markets are back up and running and liquidity is returning to the marketplace. As the recovery continues and the pace of CMBS originations grows, Larry's experience will be invaluable. He brings longstanding relationships with leading financial institutions, including insurance companies, regional banks and other important participants in the market, and helps deepen the breadth of our already significant client base. We are delighted to welcome him to the firm."
"Morrison & Foerster has built one of the top commercial real estate finance practices in the world," said Mr. Ceriello. "The firm has stellar lawyers, an outstanding global platform, is a market leader in New York and has an enviable client base. It is also incredibly nimble, demonstrating more than once that it knows how to successfully navigate the inevitable boom-and-bust cycles we experience. That makes MoFo a great fit for my practice, and will enhance my ability to serve the financial institutions and other real estate investors I represent."
Mr. Ceriello joins one of the country's pre-eminent real estate finance practices. During the economic downturn, the firm handled a significant number of high-profile real estate restructurings and workouts, including representing the largest creditors in the General Growth Properties and Extended Stay Hotel cases. Since the market began its upswing in 2010, MoFo's Real Estate Group has maintained a mix of high-profile workout and bankruptcy transactions, distressed asset transactions, and new financings and equity deals – including financings for a majority of the big-ticket construction projects currently underway in New York's resurgent market.
Morrison & Foerster's Real Estate Group is ranked in Tier 1 nationally in the annual Best Law Firms report published jointly by U.S. News and Best Lawyers. The firm is also highly ranked for real estate in Chambers Asia and Chambers USA, Legal 500 US and Legal 500 Asia-Pacific.
Recent significant transactions handled by Morrison & Foerster's Real Estate Group include the representation of:
- Union Bank in its acquisition of PB Capital Corporation's institutional commercial real estate lending portfolio and platform valued at more than $3.7 billion;
- Bank of America in a $700 million syndicated construction loan to Extell Development Company for One57, the 90-story Park Hyatt Hotel and residential condominium tower on West 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall;
- The Bank of New York Mellon, as administrative agent and letter of credit issuer, in the approximately $93 million letter of credit facility as part of the 80/20 rental housing complex being constructed by Forest City Ratner at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn;
- A major Irish bank in the sale of its $1.4 billion U.S. loan portfolio to Wells Fargo in a deal consisting of 25 separate mortgage and other loans secured by commercial real estate holdings across the United States;
- Dubai Investment Group in the restructuring of its U.S. operations and the transition of its $1.3 billion U.S. real estate equity portfolio to a new asset manager;
- JPMorgan Chase in a $525 million financing for the construction of a new, multibillion-dollar, mixed-used condominium, office and retail complex planned at the site of the former St. Vincent's Hospital in New York's Greenwich Village;
- Bank of America, acting as administrative agent and lead lender of a syndicate of banks, providing the $235 million construction loan for the Baccarat Hotel & Residences, the 50-story luxury building being constructed on West 53rd Street in Manhattan by Starwood Capital;
- An affiliate of the Dubai Investment Group in the sale of famed Essex House Hotel in New York City to Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Inc., for $362.3 million; and
- Bank of America on a $350 million construction loan for 56 Leonard Street in Manhattan – the planned 60-story residential condominium designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.
Mr. Ceriello joins Morrison & Foerster from the New York office of Nixon Peabody, where he was a partner. He earned his J.D. from St. John's University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Manhattan College. Mr. Ceriello is included in the peer-selected Best Lawyers in America 2013 list for real estate law.