Metropolitan Funding Corp., a New York-based HUD/FHA lender, has formed a commercial real estate lending platform called Metrofund Group in joint venture with Sagecrest, a Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund, and Merchant Equity Group.The venture has arranged $160 million in initial capital and will provide bridge, transitional and mezzanine loans, Merchant Equity Group, a New York-based developer, reports. Hadley Bressman, president, Metropolitan, said that he believes the venture "will enable us to grow quickly and take advantage of the more difficult economic environment in 2007." James Kerner, who has considerable Wall Street experience with some investment banks, will be the COO of Metrofund Group. Most recently, he was chief underwriter for Nomura Securities' real estate division, according to Merchant Equity.

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