September 14, 2012

CT's Conning opens door to commercial mortgages

Hartford investment manager Conning teamed with a Chicago underwriter to provide a conduit for insurers to safely invest in high-yield commercial mortgages, authorities say.

Innovative Capital Advisors will originate and underwrite commercial mortgages, with Conning providing investment and risk expertise to assemble a small, low-risk pool of realty-secured obligations suitable for Conning's insurance clients, officials said.

Conning Managing Director Robert Miller, who oversees U.S. business development, said their relationship will provide insurers "with attractive investment options in a continued low interest rate environment."

Commercial mortgages and other securitized debt were at the core of the near global financial meltdown that occurred in late 2008.

Both parties say their relationship overcomes many of the high barriers to institutional investment in commercial mortgages, namely the time and expense of originating, underwriting, servicing and vetting loans.

"The challenge now is to invest in strategies without assuming excessive risks,'' said ICA CEO and Managing Director Peter Mavrogenes. "Properly done, commercial mortgage loans can substantially help that effort."

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