The Ardent Companies, the US-based real estate investment and asset management firm, is to expand its US debt platform into the UK for the first time.
The follows Ardent’s longstanding lending activity in the US reaching over $2 bn (€1.9 bn), and represents the latest pillar of its UK expansion.
The new platform will target both fresh lending and debt buying, and will be across a range of different structured options. The team will be actively looking across all commercial real estate sectors, with an anticipated focus on residential development.
Sunny Lakhtaria has been recruited by Ardent as part of this drive. He takes on the role of UK head of debt to spearhead the platform’s growth.
Richard Benson, managing director of The Ardent Companies UK, said: 'Ardent’s lending activity is centred on using its investment expertise and structures to deliver financing facilities that meet borrowers’ needs, an approach that has generated considerable repeat business.
'With the appointment of Sunny, we have a proven operator from the highest tier who is perfectly placed to bring the same success to the UK team, and we look forward to establishing one of the market’s foremost lending and debt acquisition platforms.'
A former partner of Urban Exposure plc (UE), a member of the executive and credit committees, Lakhtaria more recently set up and launched a real estate bridge financier for an AIM-listed lender.
Ardent has significant real estate lending experience in the US after recently launching its sixth debt fund. The extension of its lending platform into the UK, a key part of its growth strategy since entering the market in 2021, will draw on Ardent’s proven approach to offer borrowers a full suite of debt and financing solutions.
The move into lending follows an active period for The Ardent Companies UK, during which time it has completed the acquisition of Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull (UK) and The Royal Exchange in the City of London. It has also established a national industrial and logistics portfolio of over 2.25 million ft2 (210,000 m2).
Matt Shulman, CEO and managing partner of The Ardent Companies, said: 'Expanding our lending capabilities to the UK has been an aspiration since we entered the market over two years ago. This is another pillar of our growth in the UK and underlines our commitment following the success of the investments we have made here to date.'
Said Lakhtaria: 'I am delighted to join the team at this exciting time, and lead this growth and expansion of its debt portfolio. Ardent’s long record in real estate lending underlines its capabilities, and the extension of the platform into the UK will draw on this experience to deliver financing solutions that truly meet the challenges and opportunities in the market.'