Redwood Trust President Brett Nicholas stepping down

Will be replaced by REIT's current chief financial officer

Just over a month after Redwood Trust announced several shifts in its future business plans, the real estate investment trust is about to experience another shift, this time in its senior management.

In February, Redwood Trust announced that it would be discontinuing the acquisition and aggregation of conforming loans for sale to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as discontinuing commercial loan originations for distribution in commercial mortgage-backed securities.

And Monday morning, the REIT announced that its president, Brett Nicholas, is stepping down later this year after 20 years with the company.

According to a release from Redwood Trust, Nicholas will be leaving the REIT on July 1, 2016.

Christopher Abate, who currently serves as the REIT’s chief financial officer, will replace Nicholas as president.

Redwood has begun the process of searching for a replacement for Abate as chief financial officer, but Abate will continue to serve in that role for the time being.

Neither Redwood’s statement nor an accompanying filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclose a reason for Nicholas departure, but the SEC filing notes that Redwood expects that Nicholas will “accrue severance benefits in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement,” and that Redwood will incur a “non-recurring severance-related charge” totaling approximately $4 to $4.5 million in relation to Nicholas’ departure.

“Brett has been an important and powerful contributor at Redwood since he joined the company in 1996,” Marty Hughes, Redwood's chief executive officer, said.

“Over the past couple of years, Brett led the team that built our residential loan and capital markets platforms, which are nationally recognized for leadership, integrity, and high quality,” Hughes added. “His contributions will be missed. On a personal note, I am forever grateful to Brett for the executive partnership and business experiences Brett and I shared over the years."

As for Nicholas, he said that he is ready for his “next challenge” and feels that he is leaving the company in a strong position.

"Leading the company has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, but it is time for me to look toward the next challenge," Nicholas said. "It has been an incredible 20-year journey for me and I could not be prouder of what we accomplished in establishing Redwood as a recognized leader and innovator in the mortgage finance markets. I leave the company in strong hands, and well positioned for the future."

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