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BETHESDA, MD-Walker & Dunlop has brought on board Paul Bernard as SVP in the Principal Investment Group to lead the group’s client relations efforts and help broaden its fund management platform. One of his first assignments will be to raise capital and structure a new $100 million-to-$150 million structured debt fund that will focus on mezzanine lending. He tells GlobeSt.com that this fund will likely be launched within the next few months as the company wants to go to market with it “sooner rather than later.”

It has not yet been determined whether this new fund, which is an offshoot of an earlier fund the company developed with Fannie Mae in 2004, will use leverage to extend its purchasing power, he says. “We are still having those discussions now.” Much depends on the type of investor that buys into the fund – for instance, public pension funds have certain investment requirements about leverage. If the fund were to use leverage, Bernard says, it wouldn’t be more than 50% to 60%. “I have always practiced fairly conservative leverage throughout my career.” The company is also planning to launch a series of equity funds late next year, he adds.

Bernard describes his role for the company as looking for ways to more efficiently access capital. “I was brought on to provide that extra layer on the institutional capital side and to help the company position itself to better appeal to the institutional investor with our fund management platform.”

Prior to joining the firm, Bernard was a principal at MMA Realty Capital, responsible for capital formation, fund management, and client relations. He has also held senior positions at City of Detroit, where he was the mayoral appointee for the city’s department of planning and development department, and member of the Economic Development Cabinet, and at Public Financial Management, where he was financial advisor for federal, state and local municipalities and public authorities.

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