Ashford Hospitality Trust and Prudential Real Estate Investors have formed a joint venture to invest in mezzanine debt and equity interests in hotel properties nationwide. PREI, the Parsippany, N.J.-based real estate investment management affiliate of Prudential Financial, is putting $300 million into the venture, with Ashford, a Dallas-based real estate investment trust, putting in $100 million. The venture is interested in participations in first and second mortgages, stock-secured loans, guarantees, and preferred equity, Ashford said. The two partners will contribute capital required for each mezzanine investment on a 25% to 75% basis, with Ashford putting in 25%. "The displacement in today's credit markets has created a unique opportunity to fill in the gap for many hotel borrowers and lenders," said James P. Walker, a principal at PREI, adding that this partnership will allow them to "capitalize on the current market conditions." The REIT will manage the properties. Ashford's hotel lending efforts will be primarily sourced through the venture, according to the REIT.

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