Access Point Financial Appoints New Senior Leadership Team to Accelerate Corporate Growth and Program Expansion

July 15, 2019

Plan A

Recognized leader in hospitality-focused lending announces key appointments, including Dilip Petigara as CEO and Michael Lipson as Chairman of the Board

 ATLANTA – July 15, 2019 – Access Point Financial, LLC (APF), a leading direct lender and specialty finance company focused exclusively on the hospitality industry, today announced two key appointments to its senior leadership team, naming Dilip Petigara as Chief Executive Officer and Michael Lipson as Chairman of the Board of Directors. The appointments were made as part of aggressive new corporate growth initiatives put in place to meet the growing demand for financial services in the global hotel sector.

Since joining Access Point Financial in 2012, Petigara has held the position of Chief Operating Officer for the company. With over 23 years of experience in  the hospitality and finance industries, he previously served as Senior Vice President of Specialty Finance Group, where he managed loan operations, internal credit approvals, closing/funding and asset management. Prior to that, he held the position of Assistant Vice President and Senior Underwriter at GMAC Commercial Mortgage.

“With a highly successful 23-year tenure in hospitality, real estate and financial services, Dilip has exhibited proven financial expertise and leadership abilities that have greatly benefitted the Access Point Financial organization and our clients over the past seven years that he has served as Chief Operating Officer,” said Michael Gontar, Chief Investment Officer for Wafra Capital Partners, APF’s capital partner. “In his new role as CEO, we look forward to entering a dynamic new stage of growth with him at the helm.”

Newly appointed Chairman, Michael Lipson has served as a strategic consultant to Access Point Financial since 2017. As Senior Vice President of Multifamily Asset Management & Operations at mortgage loan company, Freddie Mac, he led the organization’s multifamily business operations, asset management and technology teams. Lipson previously served as President and CEO of Berkadia Commercial Mortgage, and also spent 13 years as Executive Vice President for Capmark Finance (GMAC Commercial Mortgage), where he oversaw hospitality lending and worked alongside Petigara and other members of APF’s senior management team.

“It is an honor to have a financial services industry veteran of Michael Lipson’s caliber heading up the Board for Access Point Financial,” continued Gontar. “Michael has been a thought leader in this space for many years now, and his new role heralds an exciting time not only for APF, but for the hospitality finance industry as a whole. We are poised for exponential growth, and these new leadership appointments are laying the foundation for even greater success, as we expand our portfolio of services to meet the growing industry demand for specialized financial services.”

With a very experienced team that has serviced $7 billion of loan products over the last 30 years, Access Point Financial is viewed as a premier financing source by top-tier franchise hotel corporations who consistently refer their franchisees to APF to help finance the expansion or maintenance of supply needed to further drive market demand. To that end, APF offers asset-based renovation/conversion loans for the repositioning of hotel assets. These loans are tailored to support recurring and mandatory brand mandated upgrades, which are required of franchisees for license agreement renewal, along with projects planned in conjunction with acquisitions and conversions – all of which are designed to facilitate franchise fee revenue growth via new room expansion.

“In order to meet the changing demands of the hotel franchise market, APF will be significantly expanding our portfolio of financial programs, implementing a series of new and exciting programs that have the  ability to be customized to meet the needs of each hotel organization,” said Petigara. “I am honored to have been chosen to lead this exceptional team of hospitality finance professionals and look forward to a new era of growth.”

For more information on Access Point Financial’s comprehensive portfolio of hospitality-focused financial services, Please visit www.accesspointfinancial.com.

About Access Point Financial | Founded in 2011, Atlanta-based Access Point Financial, LLC (APF) is a direct, full-service specialty lender focused on the hospitality industry, offering a full-service lending & advisory platform that provides financing to qualified hotel franchisees of all major brands and independent boutique hotels throughout the United States & Canada. For additional information, please visit www.accesspointfinancial.com.

From CMBS to refinancing, owners and lenders talk terms

April 8, 2019

By Stephanie Ricca
sricca@hotelnewsnow.com
@HNN_Steph

ATLANTA—With a competitive lending environment, robust debt markets and the attractiveness of hotels as an asset class, the prevailing sentiment is that now is a good time to be in the hotel business.

However, supply creep and labor costs continue to have an impact on hotel financing decisions, according to lenders and owners speaking on the “Hotel financing: The 30,000’ view” panel at the recent Hunter Hotel Conference.

“We are an ops-intensive business, so we look at the labor side, and the availability of labor is front and center for everyone,” said Adi Bhoopathy, principal and EVP of Noble Investment Group. “There are large markets that have already moved up minimum wage, so the key is to find markets that have more than 2% growth. In a lot of markets, you’re already paying about at minimum wage requirements.”

Arvind Bajaj, senior banker with Morgan Stanley, takes a similar approach to lending in the face of growing supply.

“We’re late in the cycle, but you could have said that two years ago. Real estate and hospitality is so location- and market-specific,” he said. “You can have a hot market like Atlanta or Nashville or Denver, and there’s obviously more development taking place. So you want a market that’s strong but not so strong that it brings a ton of new competitors in.”

Loan types
Bajaj talked about the current strength of the CMBS market for hotels. “Demand for CMBS loans is very steady,” he said. “Now it’s at about an $80 billion-per-year business, and it’s very competitive.”

Compared to balance-sheet loans, CMBS loans can be less flexible, and flexibility can come in handy if owners want to sell or need flexibility on reserves, he said.

Renovation or property-improvement plan lending is another story, speakers said.

“CMBS is not the best for renos, quite frankly,” Bajaj said. “The rule of thumb is that at acquisition you want a max PIP to be 20% of the loan amount. Changing the flag is very difficult. It can be done, but it’s tough to pre-wire the ability to do that.”

Scott Andrews*, managing director for hotel franchise finance at Wells Fargo, spoke about his group’s position as a pure balance sheet lender.

His group at Wells Fargo will finance PIPs associated with a hotel refinancing, and brand-mandated PIPs that come with an acquisition.

Jon Wright, chairman and CEO of direct lender Access Point Financial, said his company will do bifurcation loans for renovations, which break out the land and building costs and “put a high amortization on the CapEx component,” he said.

While cost of capital is higher for a private equity lender like Access Point, Wright said that bifurcation often means the deal is less expensive than traditional mezzanine or bridge financing.

“There’s no shortage of debt capital out there … between CMBS and balance sheet and insurance company (lenders),” Bhoopathy said. “The availability is very much out there; it just depends on your business plan.”

Construction lending

Noble Investment Group developed the ground-up dual-brand Moxy Atlanta Midtown and AC Hotel Atlanta Midtown, which opened in January. (Photo: Marriott International)
Several speakers agreed that with construction lending, it’s important to choose the right bank with terms that work for your company and the project.

Wright said Access Point is growing its construction lending business.

“Ground-up (development) often has far fewer surprises than major renovations or conversions,” he said. “As a lender, we have more control and can follow the budget more than anything else.”

Andrews* said his group at Wells Fargo does not do construction financing, but will selectively look at construction take-out opportunities once the hotel is in operation.

Bhoopathy said Noble worked with regional banks on the ground-up, dual-brand Moxy Atlanta Midtown and AC Hotel Atlanta Midtown, which opened in January right before the city hosted the Super Bowl.

“It was a complicated deal,” he said. “It was a surface parking lot owned by a public parking (real estate investment trust), so we structured a deal where we maintained their cash flow during construction, then we built a (parking) deck and a hotel on top.”

Timing definitely has an impact on construction, particularly when supply is factored in, Bhoopathy said.

“Our view is based on where construction costs have been, and availability of labor and cost creep,” he said. “If you’re not already in the ground now, moving dirt, you’re late in the cycle … and there’s a good number of those (projects) that will get shoved to the next cycle.”

Acquisition vs. refinancing
“There’s a tremendous bias toward acquisition vs. refinancing,” Bajaj said, and many others on the panel agreed.

Bhoopathy said the decision to sell or refinance should remain deal-specific.

“It’s very rare that we contemplate a long-term refi, and we’d likely prefer to sell over refi, if all things are equal,” he said. “But that said, at this point where we are late in the cycle … whatever you do, find yourself the flexibility. There’s available capital out there, and people will match your terms for a good deal.”

* Correction, 29 March 2019: The story has been edited to correct and clarify remarks published in an earlier version of the story attributed to Scott Andrews, managing director for hotel franchise finance at Wells Farg

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From CMBS to refinancing, owners and lenders talk terms

April 8, 2019

By Stephanie Ricca
sricca@hotelnewsnow.com
@HNN_Steph

ATLANTA—With a competitive lending environment, robust debt markets and the attractiveness of hotels as an asset class, the prevailing sentiment is that now is a good time to be in the hotel business.

However, supply creep and labor costs continue to have an impact on hotel financing decisions, according to lenders and owners speaking on the “Hotel financing: The 30,000’ view” panel at the recent Hunter Hotel Conference.

“We are an ops-intensive business, so we look at the labor side, and the availability of labor is front and center for everyone,” said Adi Bhoopathy, principal and EVP of Noble Investment Group. “There are large markets that have already moved up minimum wage, so the key is to find markets that have more than 2% growth. In a lot of markets, you’re already paying about at minimum wage requirements.”

Arvind Bajaj, senior banker with Morgan Stanley, takes a similar approach to lending in the face of growing supply.

“We’re late in the cycle, but you could have said that two years ago. Real estate and hospitality is so location- and market-specific,” he said. “You can have a hot market like Atlanta or Nashville or Denver, and there’s obviously more development taking place. So you want a market that’s strong but not so strong that it brings a ton of new competitors in.”

Loan types
Bajaj talked about the current strength of the CMBS market for hotels. “Demand for CMBS loans is very steady,” he said. “Now it’s at about an $80 billion-per-year business, and it’s very competitive.”

Compared to balance-sheet loans, CMBS loans can be less flexible, and flexibility can come in handy if owners want to sell or need flexibility on reserves, he said.

Renovation or property-improvement plan lending is another story, speakers said.

“CMBS is not the best for renos, quite frankly,” Bajaj said. “The rule of thumb is that at acquisition you want a max PIP to be 20% of the loan amount. Changing the flag is very difficult. It can be done, but it’s tough to pre-wire the ability to do that.”

Scott Andrews*, managing director for hotel franchise finance at Wells Fargo, spoke about his group’s position as a pure balance sheet lender.

His group at Wells Fargo will finance PIPs associated with a hotel refinancing, and brand-mandated PIPs that come with an acquisition.

Jon Wright, chairman and CEO of direct lender Access Point Financial, said his company will do bifurcation loans for renovations, which break out the land and building costs and “put a high amortization on the CapEx component,” he said.

While cost of capital is higher for a private equity lender like Access Point, Wright said that bifurcation often means the deal is less expensive than traditional mezzanine or bridge financing.

“There’s no shortage of debt capital out there … between CMBS and balance sheet and insurance company (lenders),” Bhoopathy said. “The availability is very much out there; it just depends on your business plan.”

Construction lending

Noble Investment Group developed the ground-up dual-brand Moxy Atlanta Midtown and AC Hotel Atlanta Midtown, which opened in January. (Photo: Marriott International)
Several speakers agreed that with construction lending, it’s important to choose the right bank with terms that work for your company and the project.

Wright said Access Point is growing its construction lending business.

“Ground-up (development) often has far fewer surprises than major renovations or conversions,” he said. “As a lender, we have more control and can follow the budget more than anything else.”

Andrews* said his group at Wells Fargo does not do construction financing, but will selectively look at construction take-out opportunities once the hotel is in operation.

Bhoopathy said Noble worked with regional banks on the ground-up, dual-brand Moxy Atlanta Midtown and AC Hotel Atlanta Midtown, which opened in January right before the city hosted the Super Bowl.

“It was a complicated deal,” he said. “It was a surface parking lot owned by a public parking (real estate investment trust), so we structured a deal where we maintained their cash flow during construction, then we built a (parking) deck and a hotel on top.”

Timing definitely has an impact on construction, particularly when supply is factored in, Bhoopathy said.

“Our view is based on where construction costs have been, and availability of labor and cost creep,” he said. “If you’re not already in the ground now, moving dirt, you’re late in the cycle … and there’s a good number of those (projects) that will get shoved to the next cycle.”

Acquisition vs. refinancing
“There’s a tremendous bias toward acquisition vs. refinancing,” Bajaj said, and many others on the panel agreed.

Bhoopathy said the decision to sell or refinance should remain deal-specific.

“It’s very rare that we contemplate a long-term refi, and we’d likely prefer to sell over refi, if all things are equal,” he said. “But that said, at this point where we are late in the cycle … whatever you do, find yourself the flexibility. There’s available capital out there, and people will match your terms for a good deal.”

* Correction, 29 March 2019: The story has been edited to correct and clarify remarks published in an earlier version of the story attributed to Scott Andrews, managing director for hotel franchise finance at Wells Farg