NEW YORK CITY-Commercial veterans Peter Berk and Michael Sonnabend, both formerly with AFC Realty Capital, have set up shop with PM Realty Capital LLC and its subsidiary PM Hotel Finance Group. The real estate investment banking services firm, announced Tuesday, has been doing deals since the beginning of the month, Sonnabend tells

The partners have more than 40 years’ combined experience. “We’ve seen markets go up and down,” Sonnabend says. “Things may not have been as down as they are now for a long time, but the important part is that we have experience in getting deals done and we’re focused on working with our clients on what they can realistically accomplish in this environment.” He adds that while some of these deals have focused on acquisitions and construction loans, “for the most part, we’re focused on existing properties.”

PM’s primary emphasis is on the middle market, with transactions that need between $5 million and $50 million in financing and a “sweet spot” of around $20 million, says Sonnabend. “The key, as always, is to find the right checkbook for the right deal.”

Sonnabend notes that at present, “the regional banks are a lot more active than the larger banks, and we’ve also dealt with some private capital.” Life companies, too, are in the game “very selectively,” he adds. “There are those who have always done deals of this size, and those that look to do larger deals. The issue is those looking to do the much larger deals; that’s problematic. But we’re finding some decent traction in our space.”

The landscape for debt and equity has changed over the course of 2009–i.e. there’s some actual activity now. “Six months ago, there was nothing,” Sonnabend says. “Now you have lenders selectively looking to make deals. We just closed a $15-million deal on a hotel with a group of regional banks, and I think we got some attractive financing for our client.”

Berk, who has financed over $5 billion of hotels representing over 20,000 rooms says in a release that “PM Hotel Finance Group will serve as a premier real estate investment banking firm, specializing in providing integrated capital solutions for fully and limited service hotels on a nationwide basis.” He will spearhead the hotel practice.

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