With her responsibilities spread among several divisions after the Citicorp-Travelers Group merger, Patricia Goldstein, one of the most prominent and respected real estate bankers in New York, has left to start her own firm.
Ms. Goldstein and three partners have set up an investment banking boutique that will arrange financing for property owners and developers in North America and Europe. The venture, Citadel Realty Group, is to move into its Park Avenue office next week.
Ms. Goldstein said Citadel would focus on complicated transactions that require creativity -- something she is known for.
"Pat Goldstein is as smart as a whip and as tough as nails," said James Kune, president of Newmark & Co., who worked for Ms. Goldstein at Citicorp in the early 1990s. "She knows how to get deals done."
Ms. Goldstein had overseen all of Citicorp's real estate-related businesses in North America, Europe, and Japan for the last four years. But since the banking company merged with Travelers Group to form Citigroup Inc. last year, her department has been in a state of flux.
"The direction that things were going in during the merger for real estate at Citi did not work for me," Ms. Goldstein said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I had a lot of different businesses. Different pieces went different places."
In December, for example, commercial mortgage securitization in the United States was placed under the control of David Tibbals, who came from Salomon Smith Barney. In February, European real estate securitization was consolidated with the corporate securitization group, run out of London by Julian Simmonds, who came from Citicorp.
Citigroup does not plan to fill Ms. Goldstein's post. A spokesman for the company said it is parceling out businesses she oversaw to different parts of its new "global corporate investment bank."
"We wish her well in her future endeavors," the spokesman said.
Ms. Goldstein, 54, joined Citibank in 1966. In 1970 she took one of the first credit training classes to admit women. During the real estate investment trust crisis of the early 1970s, she worked out bad loans. In the late 1970s as the market recovered, she moved to real estate lending.
After a brief stint in middle-market and consumer banking, she left the bank in 1983 to join the developer Olympia & York Companies USA as treasurer. Her boss and mentor was Paul Reichmann, the Canadian real estate magnate. She recalls being impressed by his level of financial sophistication, a quality she says is surprisingly lacking among some developers and property investors, even today.
"Paul's forte was finance," Ms. Goldstein said. "He had a global mind. I learned an awful lot at O&Y."
In 1988 she moved to M.J. Raynes Inc., a real estate sales and marketing firm. As the real estate industry fell into a severe recession, the firm fell upon hard times, eventually folding in 1991. In 1990 Ms. Goldstein returned to Citicorp and once again worked out bad loans.
Mr. Kune, whom Ms. Goldstein hired to help with the workouts, credited Ms. Goldstein for holding on to foreclosed real estate until it regained value rather than selling it at panic prices.
"When the banks and the (Resolution Trust Corp.) were giving away properties in the early '90s, Pat had the foresight to tell the bank, 'We shouldn't give this stuff away,' " Mr. Kune said. "She probably made a fortune for Citi by not allowing stuff to get out the door too soon."
Her deft handling of a bad situation undoubtedly led to her promotion to division executive of Citicorp Real Estate in 1995.
With all her experience, Ms. Goldstein is in good company at Citadel. Her partners are Joel Ross, chairman of Ross Properties Inc.; Dan Abrams, a former tax lawyer who is also a veteran of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc. and Nomura Holding America's high-flying Capital America unit; and Caryn Effron, most recently a partner in Pembroke Realty.
Citadel plans to arrange debt, equity, and mezzanine financing for clients and put together joint ventures, partnerships, and other complex ownership structures. The firm already has a number of deals in the pipeline, for projects and existing properties in Chicago, New York, London, and Italy.
Ms. Goldstein stressed that Citadel's mission is more than just to place loans. Rather, she said, it will help developers and owners navigate the increasingly complex world of real estate finance, where life is no longer as simple as going to a bank in one's hometown for a loan.
"We'll be filling in as chief financial officer," she said.
Eventually, Ms Goldstein said, she hopes Citadel will also invest its own money. "Ultimately, we will move in the direction of making equity investments as principals," she said.
And when the next downturn comes, the firm will be available to do workouts. "We have the skills," she said.