While no stranger to lending to middle market companies, Bain Capital is a latecomer to the BDC party. Other asset investment firms of its size embraced the structure years ago.
A combination of demand from institutional investors and lessons learned from the lenders that came and went during the credit crisis motivated the wait.
“We haven’t gone for explosive growth,” said Michael Ewald.
Calls for a BDC’s advantageous structure led to the SEC filing of the registration statement for Bain Capital Specialty Finance on Oct. 6. The BDC will invest in middle market companies generating $10 million–150 million in annual earnings, with ones that generate $20–75 million in EBITDA the primary target.
Ones smaller than those, generating $10–20 million in earnings, generally have very health relationships with regional banks, so lending to them is more competitive.
Bain plans to differentiate themselves from the crowded playing field of BDCs that lend to middle market companies by investment choices made for the 30% of assets in non-qualifying investments. Here, Bain aims to target European and Australian companies.
The credit originations team under Ewald reflects this: staff in Melbourne is increasing to four from three, seven people are based in London, and the rest are in New York, Boston, and Chicago.
The previous name of the entity is Sankaty Capital Corp, the filing showed. The BDC will be externally managed by Bain professionals through BCSF Advisors. The BDC’s board consists of David Fubini, Thomas Hough, and Jay Margolis. Investment decisions are made by the committee that governs other Bain Funds, and consists of Jonathan Lavine, Tim Barns, Stuart Davies, Jonathan DeSimone, Alon Avner, Michael Ewald, Christopher Linneman, and Jeff Robinson.
Investor capital at Bain has previously had exposure to the middle market lending asset class through other funds, including a dedicated $400 million direct lending fund raised at the start of 2015. In addition, Bain is currently investing from a $1.5 billion fund targeting junior debt investments at middle market companies, with another $3.5–4 billion targeting senior debt of middle market companies through others types of funds and managed accounts.
The BDC has been investing for about three weeks, and is expected to ramp up fully over one year. Excluding leverage, the size is $546 million. The private BDC has a 3-1/2 year investment period, after which it will be wound down, unless it is listed publicly before then.
Many BDCs in recent years have struggled with shares trading below net asset value, marring fundraising efforts through share sales. Before then, the BDC would need to be fully invested, and grow more, with at least $750 million in equity.
Per Ewald, “There’s potential to take it public, but we’ll figure that out when the time’s appropriate. There haven’t been a lot of BDC IPOs lately, so that might be the bigger news story.” — Abby Latour
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