Ralph Herzka’s Run Ends as Meridian Capital CEO

Brokerage appoints ex-Fannie Mae general counsel Brian Brooks as new leader effective in mid-April.

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Ralph Herzka, who has led Meridian Capital Group since co-founding the brokerage firm in 1991, will be succeeded next month by new CEO Brian Brooks, a former acting controller of the currency and general counsel at Fannie Mae (FNMA), the company announced Tuesday.

Brooks, 54, will take the helm of Meridian in mid-April while Herzka, 61, will transition to the role of senior chairman focusing on expanding its lender and broker relationships. Brooks most recently was at law firm O’Melveny & Myers and from 2014 to 2018 was general counsel at Fannie Mae, where he led the overhaul of the government-sponsored enterprise’s corporate governance structure, Meridian said in a statement. 

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“As we look to institutionalize Meridian as a world-class company and further diversify our revenues, there is no better steward of our future than Brian,” Herzka said in a statement. “Thanks to the work of our leadership and team, we are positioned well to stand tall and thrive in the service of our stakeholders as the real estate market and regulatory environment evolve.” 

Bloomberg was first to report news of Meridian’s leadership change. 

In addition to his general counsel role at Fannie Mae, Brooks has also served on the board of directors and risk committee. 

Brooks is taking the reins at Meridian at a time when the brokerage is facing a high level of scrutiny. After loan information submitted by the brokerage for a deal was called into question last November, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac halted any deals placed by the brokerage with lenders in their networks. 

Freddie Mac proceeded to tighten its underwriting requirements by ensuring all loan documentation is delivered directly from borrowers to Freddie Mac lenders, Commercial Observer first reported at the time. Fannie Mae also alerted lenders in November that all agency-backed loans involving brokers were subject to pre-review, CO also first reported

Part of Brooks’s new purview will be “resetting” the brokerage’s agency relationships, according to Bloomberg. 

“I see great potential to revitalize the broker model and enhance the core engine of the firm while investing in adjacent commercial real estate capabilities and strengths,” Brooks said in a statement. 

BrianBrooks Ralph Herzkas Run Ends as Meridian Capital CEO
Brian Brooks

Brooks previously held a chief regulator role with the U.S. national banking system as acting comptroller of the currency, where he was on the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and a voting member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council

Prior to working in bank regulation with Fannie Mae, Brooks was vice chairman of OneWest Bank (Now CIT Group) where he worked under CEO Steven Mnuchin, who later became Treasury secretary. 

Yoni Goodman, president of Meridian since 2019, will continue in his role and work closely with Brooks, the firm said. 

This is a developing news story and will be updated 

Andrew Coen can be reached at acoen@commercialobserver.com