Chris LaBianca and David Nass

Chris LaBianca and David Nass

Managing director and head of commercial mortgage originations at UBS; Managing director and head of real estate finance at UBS

Last year's rank: 44

Chris LaBianca and David Nass
By April 30, 2023 8:59 AM

It was a complicated year in 2022 for lenders like UBS, which experienced the vengeance of inflation, a swift hike in interest rates by the Fed, and the geopolitical aftershocks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Despite those headwinds, the UBS real estate team led by David Nass and Chris LaBianca still completed $4.3 billion in total originations, including $1.3 billion worth of securitized originations and $900 million in bespoke CRE credit facilities. 

Aside from focusing on CMBS and, more generally, capital markets activity, the team put an emphasis on balance sheet initiatives, specifically balance sheet loans for the firm’s wealth and institutional clients, offering fixed- and floating-
rate loans on light transitional and stabilized cash-flowing properties. 

“We also continued to expand our CRE warehouse business and acquisition facilities businesses, extending new lines and facilities to clients seeking loan-on-loan leverage,” Nass said. 

“The goal for us was to leverage the balance sheet and leverage our capabilities in every way possible,” he added.  

Notable transactions included jointly leading on a $4 billion bridge financing package to support the acquisition of Monmouth Real Estate Investment by ILPT, a REIT that owns and leases industrial and logistics properties across the U.S.; a $130 million floating-rate loan for the recapitalization of a nine-property industrial portfolio in multiple U.S. markets; and a $90 million floating-rate loan for the recapitalization of another nine-property industrial portfolio in multiple national markets. 

Nearly one-third of UBS’s $2.8 billion of loans on its balance sheet portfolio are allocated to industrial investments, according to firm data.  

“Industrial is a relatively stable asset class that has performed particularly well through COVID and through the recent volatility,” Nass explained. “And, given our experience, we’ve developed strong client relationships with sponsors who specialize in the asset class.” 

But the firm’s 2022 loan portfolio is highly diversified beyond just industrial, with 29 percent of loans devoted to retail, 18 percent to multifamily, 12 percent to office, 8 percent to self-storage, and 3 percent to hospitality and hotels. 

“This is one of the more complicated markets we’ve experienced,” Nass said. “There is no broad brush today — meaning, you can’t say that certain property types are ‘good’ or certain property types are ‘bad.’ ” 

For example, although office is a highly scrutinized property type due to the uncertainty around occupancy, rents and cap rates, that doesn’t mean there aren’t very attractive opportunities to lend on office properties, Nass explained. Though it does mean that a more thorough analysis is required for each asset and in each region.

To this end, Nass and LaBianca have recruited a team tailored to capitalizing on all asset classes, not just one. And the team will likely only get stronger in 2023 following UBS’s purchase of Credit Suisse in March. It’s unclear how the unraveling of Credit Suisse’s CRE business lines will play out, but Nass and LaBianca will likely be beneficiaries. —B.P.