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[IMGCAP(1)]IRVINE, CA-Commercial real mortgage brokerage and investment banking firm Johnson Capital has expanded at its Irvine and Dallas offices with the hiring of Gary Braun as an Irvine-based senior vice president who will focus on hotel transactions and Ronald Davis as a vice president in Dallas who will focus on multifamily financing. President Guy Johnson of Johnson Capital tells GlobeSt.com that the Irvine-based firm, although it recognizes that the continuing downturn means that the market is going to face even more distress, has added the new hires in part because “We think there are still opportunities within a stressed market.”

Johnson says that his firm is looking for “talented individuals who either have been dislocated because of all of the volatility in the real estate capital markets or are looking to align themselves with a complete capital markets platform.” He notes that private companies like Johnson have not had to scale back like the many competitors who have “had to retrench because of issues outside of their platforms.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Johnson adds that, despite how difficult conditions have become, “There are some bright spots within the capital markets.” There are still maturing loans that need to be addressed, and there is still capital available from sources like portfolio lenders, life insurance companies and government-sponsored entities that provide multifamily financing, he points out.

Braun is a 16-year mortgage banking industry veteran who has experience working with a wide variety of insurance companies, commercial banks, credit companies and other balance sheet lenders. Before beginning his career in mortgage banking, he financed commercial real estate as a lender with Westinghouse Credit and ITT Real Estate Services.

At Johnson Capital, Braun expects to spend the majority of his time involved with hotel transactions because he sees opportunities in the hospitality industry in the near future, but he also anticipates an increasing number of refinance and restructuring opportunities in the current market and expects to be involved in those as well. He will originate, negotiate, underwrite and place commercial real estate debt, equity and mezzanine capital for clients across the country.

Davis will be responsible for placing loans on a variety of commercial real estate property types, with an emphasis on Texas and the Southwest. As a result of the current financial crisis, he intends to focus on financing multifamily properties through actively lending government agencies like Freddie Mac and HUD.

Davis’ diverse real estate background includes work in mortgage banking, development and appraisal. As a mortgage banker, he has placed more than $1.25 billion in loans with all lender types including commercial banks, life insurance companies, CMBS, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and HUD.

Johnson says that the addition of Braun and Davis reflects the Irvine-based firm’s policy of hiring “proven deal-makers with capital markets expertise.” Johnson Capital, with nearly $1.6 billion in transactions over the past year and aggregate transaction volume of more than $25 billion since its inception in 1987, is one of the largest real estate investment banking and commercial mortgage brokerage firms in the nation.

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