Alexandra Cooley, Jessica Bailey and Jason Hernandez

Jason Hernandez (left), Alexandra Cooley (top right), and Jessica Bailey.


Jason Hernandez, Alexandra Cooley and Jessica Bailey

Managing director and head of U.S. debt at Nuveen Real Estate, CIO and co-founder of Nuveen Green Capital; president and CEO of Nuveen Green Capital at Nuveen

Last year's rank: 29

Alexandra Cooley, Jessica Bailey and Jason Hernandez
By April 22, 2024 8:50 AM

Jason Hernandez likes to impart a few crucial messages to Nuveen’s debt team. “One is: You can’t use the tactics from the last war in this war,” he said. “I’m trying to get people to think about things differently.”

This mantra encapsulates Nuveen’s approach to the past year of deals, which has required adaptability, creativity and realism amid market uncertainty. 

In total, Nuveen originated an impressive $1.7 billion in loans in 2023. For much of the year, Nuveen focused on the insurance segment, from both a deployment and capital-raising perspective. When 2024 came around and the market shifted, Nuveen also shifted some of its  activity in the transitional bridge lending space.

Rewind to this time a year ago, and Nuveen’s priorities were threefold, Hernandez said: protecting its existing $40 billion book, raising capital and building for the future, and current year deployment. 

“I think, over the year, that pivoted,” said Hernandez, who highlighted the need to commercialize other parts of the business, as well as Nuveen’s first closed-end, value-add fund, slated to have closed in mid-April. The deal marks the company’s flagship vehicle in the credit space. 

Because 2023 saw such high interest rates and borrowers weren’t borrowing, there were fewer transactions overall. Hernandez sees this result not necessarily as a limitation, but as an opportunity to pivot; most of Nuveen’s deployment was in the fixed-rate core space as opposed to the traditional value add.  

“We want to commercialize our core side and also raise third-party capital to invest in that space because we think it’s really attractive,” said Hernandez. “And, then, once we do that, [we’ll] have core, core plus, and value add, both internal and third-party capital as well, which is really the goal for us.”

As for its portfolio, Nuveen has continued to shift its sectors by exclusively focusing on housing, logistics and alternative asset classes. These sectors went up in credit by $10 billion, while the credit book for office and retail declined by roughly that same amount. 

Nuveen Green Capital also had a big 2023 originating more than $800 million of commercial property assessed (C-PACE) clean energy deals. It  provided financing for 41 percent of the C-PACE deals originated across the CRE market in 2023.

“Despite continued volatility, 2023 was a record-setting year for us,” Jessica Bailey said. “We saw C-PACE become the cornerstone of the capital stack on many deals, and we also saw our average loan size jump nearly threefold.”

More articles about Power Finance 2022, Power Finance 2024