Ripco Nabs Adam Hakim, James Murad From Meridian to Expand Debt Platform

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Ripco Real Estate has hired Adam Hakim and James Murad from Meridian Capital Group in a move aimed at boosting the brokerage firm’s presence in the debt capital markets, Commercial Observer can first report. 

The duo began at Ripco on Monday, April 8, after working as a team at Meridian since August 2018, where they specialized in arranging construction financing and transitional loans in the New York metro region and Florida. They will work alongside Steven Sperandio with Ripco’s debt structured finance business. 

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Murad, who is now a  managing director out of Ripco’s New York office, said a big factor in making the move was having a chance to build up a debt platform as Ripco expands beyond its retail leasing roots — similar to what he and Hakim accomplished together previously at now-defunct broker Eastern Consolidated from 2015 to 2018.

“It was nice when we were at Eastern to build out a debt platform at a company that already had investment sales and retail leasing,” Murad said. “They’ve already got that platform here with Sperandio, but we saw this as a good mix between what they already offer and where we could, hopefully hoping to continue to grow.”

Hakim will take on an executive managing director role, splitting time between New York and Ripco’s Miami office where Sperandio is based. Murad said New York and South Florida will be their two focus markets with a particular concentration around transitional assets along with land acquisitions and bridge loans for multifamily, hotel and condominium properties. He added that there also could be more opportunities in the retail sector given Ripco’s relationships in that space via its leasing arm. 

Hakim and Murad have facilitated roughly $15 billion of transactions across various property sectors in nearly a decade together. One of their signature deals involved closing a $350 million construction loan from Bank OZK for Fosun International and J.D. Carlisle Development Group’s condominium tower at 126 Madison Avenue, a deal that closed in 2018 while both worked at Eastern. 

“Bringing Adam and James on board marks a pivotal moment in Ripco’s journey, underscoring our commitment to being a comprehensive player in the real estate market,” Mark Kaplan, president of Ripco, said in a statement. “Their impressive track record and extensive expertise in capital markets significantly propel our capabilities and position us to capitalize on growth opportunities more dynamically.”  

The departure of Hakim and Murad to Ripco comes during a time of transition for Meridian Capital, which in mid-April will see its founding CEO Ralph Herzka replaced by Brian Brooks, a former general counsel at Fannie Mae. Meridian has been facing a high level of scrutiny since November when both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac halted any transactions procured by the brokerage with lenders in their networks after loan information for a deal was called into question

Meridian declined to comment. 

Andrew Coen can be reached at acoen@commercialobserver.com