MIAMI-Locally based Aztec Group Inc. has hired Howard Taft as senior managing director. The 30-year real estate financing and sales veteran previously served as managing director of Cohen Financial’s local office, as well as senior managing director at Holliday Fenoglio Fowler in Coral Gables.

Taft, who was with Cohen Financial for the past five years, says his new position with Aztec Group will allow him to increase his own interests in real estate investment. “I feel that the next 18 months will provide unprecedented opportunity for principals to acquire real estate at a substantial discount to replacement cost,” Taft tells

Taft has been responsible for managing the origination, analysis and placement of real estate debt and equity throughout the US, closing more than $3 billion in transactions to date. His principal role with Aztec Group, a real estate investment and merchant banking firm, will be to originate and manage funds to provide gap equity and mezzanine financing, joint ventures and preferred equity for acquisition and refinancing of existing properties, including note purchases.

“The diverse institutional and developmental background of Aztec Group’s team of skilled, market-wise professionals is now further enhanced by the addition of Howard Taft, a high-caliber industry professional,” Ezra Katz, the company’s chairman and CEO, stated in a release. He added that Taft will be joined in Miami by Charles Penan, whose responsibilities as a director will include underwriting, loan packaging and marketing of debt and equity transactions.

Founded in 1981, Aztec Group specializes in facilitating the acquisition, disposition, financing and capital needs of real estate projects for institutional investors, entrepreneurs and commercial developers, as well as offshore clients. It claims to have handled at least $8 billion in transactions over the past decade.

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