A $400-million joint venture to generate mezzanine financing for hotel investments could be the first of many such funding programs in 2008. "We think this is a trend that we see other companies going into as well," said David Loeb, senior real estate research analyst and managing director for Robert W. Baird & Co. Prudential Real Estate Investors is launching its first mezzanine lending program by putting up $300 million. Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc. invested $100 million and will deploy the capital.

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