Macquarie's Barrie Bloom worked on a pivotal deal for a Hawaii hotel. The Australian bank had never bought equity in a hotel before, but Bloom is turning this sector into a key cog for Macquarie's real estate strategy.
- Insider's Banker of the Week series appears in our weekday newsletter, 10 Things on Wall Street.
- This week we're highlighting Barrie Bloom, a managing director at Macquarie Capital real estate investment team.
Shortly after Barrie Bloom joined Macquarie Capital as a managing director in real estate principal investing in March 2020, the world changed forever.
The global pandemic turned banking and finance on its head, and it took literally years for Bloom to meet some of her colleagues in the flesh. The landscape for real estate, meanwhile, took a turn. Investors flocked to spaces like single-family rental housing and commercial property sectors including logistics. Sophisticated investment firms like Blackstone sought to capitalize on demand for housing and the lack of supply throughout the country.
Macquarie applied a more conservative approach to real estate, preferring to stick to tried-and-tested debt structures rather than somewhat riskier equity investments.
But to go deeper into the space, the Australian investment bank leaned on experienced real estate bankers like Bloom and her mentor, Jackie Hamilton, Macquarie's global co-head of real estate investments. The pair are the bank's two most senior people focused on real estate, and have helped deploy millions of dollars in investments since the onset of the pandemic.
"One of the reasons I'm at Macquarie is working for Jackie Hamilton. She has been a mentor to me since 2007," Bloom told Insider in an interview. "She wanted someone who could come in and do asset management in acquisitions and loan originations."
Loan origination has long been part of Macquarie's bread and butter. But with Bloom, the bank has since deployed record amounts of capital toward real estate-related acquisitions.
Betting on the rebound
One area where Bloom has helped usher Macquarie's investment strategy is in hotels.
The pandemic cast a dark cloud over the tourism space as flight schedules were slashed, and travelers stayed indoors to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Macquarie, like most of Wall Street, was reluctant to bet on real estate like hotels. But Bloom saw an opportunity to gain a foothold in a space under duress.
"I started banging my fist in the spring-summer of 2o20 that we should be buying hotels," Bloom said. "That was an interesting conversation because the group I sit in had never bought a hotel before."
Like most big banks encroaching on a new asset class, or investment strategy, Macquarie started slowly. Later that year, Bloom was involved in the financing of hotels, before taking on equity. She said she got Macquarie to "dip their toes in" before diving deeper into hotel investments.
A pivotal moment came with a hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii. In late 2020, Bloom was in talks to provide debt financing on an asset that included several decision makers, not too dissimilar to the plot of the George Clooney film "The Descendants." But she "took one look" at the property and was all in.
"I said 'I'm not just going to provide the debt, I'll only do this if we do the equity as well,'" Bloom said. "We ended up doing the full capital stack."
Since that investment, Macquarie bought in Dovetail, a hospitality operator, to operate the facility last year. It gave Dovetail a chance to enter the Waikiki market and capitalize on the rebound in travel and tourism.
More important, that decision now has Bloom closing in on more hotel-related investments. Not just for financing, but with equity, too. Macquarie went from zero exposure, to a deployment of about $500 million since Bloom's arrival.
"Now every hotel deal I'm looking at, Macquarie wants it to be as good as the Waikiki hotel," Bloom said. "It's a testament to how much they supported that deal."
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