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Versa Media Capital nets $100M financing from Crayhill Capital

Versa Media Capital received a $100 million financing facility from Crayhill Capital Management.

Versa Media Capital is a newly formed company that will provide bridge financing for independent film and television production, as well as mezzanine, gap, and tax credit loans. The team expects to structure and close financing for 15–20 projects per year.

The company was founded by Jeff Geoffray, Jeffrey Konvitz, and Daniel Rainey.

Geoffray co-founded film financing company Blue Rider Finance, which underwrote and financed over 70 transactions on films with over $700 million in production costs. Konvitz is an entertainment attorney. Rainey is a private equity investor and attorney.

New York–based Crayhill Capital Management is an alternative-asset-management firm. — Abby Latour

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Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Taps Grant Moyer as Head of Leveraged Capital Markets

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group announced today that Grant Moyer has joined the firm as head of leveraged capital markets for the securities business in the Americas.

Moyer joins Mitsubishi UFJ Securities from Goldman Sachs, where he spent the last decade in the leveraged finance division, most recently as a managing director.

Moyer will be based in New York and will report to Paul Young, international head of capital markets at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, and Jeffrey Knowles, head of syndications at MUFG Union Bank.

The leveraged capital markets business was established earlier this year to combine MUFG’s capital markets and leveraged finance division for the structuring and delivery of all debt products—including syndicated bank loans, institutional loans, and bonds—from one business unit.

Prior to his time at Goldman Sachs, Moyer spent 10 years at Bank of America and its legacy firms in various leveraged acquisition finance roles. — Rachelle Kakouris

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This story first appeared on www.lcdcomps.com, LCD’s subscription site offering complete news, analysis and data covering the global leveraged loan and high yield bond markets. You can learn more about LCD here.

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Octagon Hires McDermott from Deutsche Bank

Octagon Credit Investors has hired Doug McDermott as a managing director of business development, effective on May 31. McDermott will work with John Dudzik and George Duarte in sourcing and cultivating new business opportunities for Octagon as well as Conning, Octagon’s majority shareholder.

McDermott was previously a managing director and head of loan sales at Deutsche Bank, where he was also an investment banker in the firm’s Financial Sponsors and Leveraged Finance Groups. — Andrew Park 

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Oak Hill Advisors Hires Convery from GreensLedge

Oak Hill Advisors has hired John Convery from GreensLedge Capital Markets to serve as a Managing Director responsible for investment product marketing and client coverage. He will play a role on OHA’s structured products platform.

Convery returns to New York this summer after his previous role as the Head of European Investment Banking at GreensLedge Capital Markets in London focusing on structured credit investment banking.

Before GreensLedge, he was the head of the Global CDO business at Deutsche Bank overseeing origination, structuring, distribution, and servicing institutional clients worldwide. — Andrew Park

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This story first appeared on www.lcdcomps.com, LCD’s subscription site offering complete news, analysis and data covering the global leveraged loan and high yield bond markets. You can learn more about LCD here.

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Webster Bank Hires Torrado, Formerly of CIT, for Capital Markets

Webster Bank has hired Paco Torrado as senior vice president and director, Capital Markets.

He will be based in New York. He reports to Andre Paquette, senior vice president and senior relationship manager, Commercial Banking.

Torrado most recently was at CIT Group in New York, where he worked for ten years, focused on structuring and syndication of middle market debt financing.

He also worked as a distressed and special situations analyst at J. Giordano Securities. Prior to that, he spent six years at CIBC World Markets, where he managed a corporate loan trading book. — Abby Latour

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Young Exits Och-Ziff to Co-Found New Alternative Asset Manager

Don Young has left his position as managing director at Och-Ziff Capital Management to establish a new asset management firm, according to market sources.

Young will join forces with Mike Damaso and Jay Garrett as co-founders of the new firm, which will be a diversified alternative asset manager (including CLOs), and which is expected to launch later this year, according to market sources.

Eldridge Industries is a key investor in the new firm. Eldridge also acts as a holdco for Security Benefit.

Young has worked at Och-Ziff since September 2013, and previously has held positions at Octagon Credit Investors and Primus Asset Management. Damaso was previously chairman of the investment committee overseeing corporate credit investing and a portfolio manager for the NZC Guggenheim Fund. Garrett was previously at Matlin Paterson. — Sarah Husband

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Onex Launches Direct Lending platform, Taps Goldman Sponsor-Finance Veteran

Onex Credit is launching a direct lending platform, including to middle market companies, and has hired Walt Jackson to lead it.

The platform will lend to non-investment-grade middle market and larger companies. CEO Michael Gelblat leads the Onex Credit team from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Jackson was at Goldman Sachs for 19 years, most recently as COO of the Private Credit Group of its merchant banking division, which provides senior loans and mezzanine debt to companies, and as a senior credit officer of the private credit group. Jackson also originated sponsor financing at The Bank of Nova Scotia, where he worked for 10 years, and he worked in leverage finance at Credit Suisse.

Onex Credit joins a growing list of players expanding into middle market lending for sponsor-backed companies, a business dominated by Antares Capital, Golub Capital, and Ares.

New lenders to the middle market say smaller companies are underserved by banks, which have backed away from the sector since the financial crisis due to increased regulation.

KKR & Co.’s head of energy and infrastructure investing Marc Lipschultz announced in February he would start a credit fund with Doug Ostrover, co-founder of the credit investor GSO Capital Partners that was acquired by Blackstone, Bloomberg reported. The news firm, Owl Rock Capital, will lend to small and middle market companies across industries.

H.I.G. WhiteHorse, the credit affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, announced in February it hired Stuart Aronson to head its U.S. Direct Lending team. Aronson had been CEO of GE Capital’s sponsor finance group.

A year ago, TIAA-CREF unveiled a standalone business, called Churchill Asset Management, to lend mainly to U.S. middle market companies.

The venture includes George Kurteson as head of underwriting and portfolio management, and Randy Schwimmer as head of origination and capital markets. Kenneth Kencel leads the New York-based team. Churchill hired Christopher Cox as chief risk officer in July.

The direct lending unit of TCW Group formed a middle market lending venture together with Security Benefit and Oak Hill Advisors in June last year. TCW Direct Lending and partners committed roughly $1 billion to the initiative, called TCW Direct Lending Strategic Ventures.

The previous year, AllianceBernstein launched a platform, AB Private Credit Investors, to lend to U.S. middle market companies. The platform, which is led by Brent Humphries, ex-president of Barclays Private Credit Partners, includes several former senior team members from Barclays and has $2.5 billion of investable capital.

A joint venture between American International Group (AIG) and affiliates of Oak Hill Capital Partners launched in June 2014, called Varagon Capital Partners, backed by an initial $1.5 billion investment commitment from AIG. In June last year, Ares Capital named Varagon as its new partner for middle market lending.

The trend toward an increasing number of players, particularly in the smaller tier of the market, is similar across the Atlantic.

Europe’s direct-lending market grew last year as institutional players raise ever-larger funds to compete for a piece of the rapidly expanding market. A report by debt advisory firm Marlborough Partners for the fourth quarter of 2015 said the number of credible direct lenders in Europe exceeds 70, with dry powder by fund ranging from €250 million to more than €2–3 billion. — Abby Latour

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This story first appeared on www.lcdcomps.com, LCD’s subscription site offering complete news, analysis and data covering the global leveraged loan and high yield bond markets. You can learn more about LCD here.

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Middle market: Great Rock Capital hires Hogan as chief risk officer

Great Rock Capital announced that Jim Hogan will join the firm as chief risk officer, responsible for underwriting, due diligence, and documentation of middle-market financing transactions.

He reports to Stuart Armstrong, chief executive officer and chief investment officer.

Previously, Hogan was head of retail financing origination at Regions Financial . Prior to Regions, he worked for over 15 years at GE Capital Corporate Lending, where he was commercial leader of restructuring and retail finance. Hogan also worked at other origination, capital markets, and special situation roles at ING Capital, Heller Financial, and Deloitte & Touche.

In December, Great Rock Capital Partners and Two Sigma Private Investments announced the launch of a lending platform for middle-market companies.
The lending platform will provide asset-based and asset-backed loans. Loans will focus on refinancings, growth capital, bridge loans, rescue capital, bank replacement financings, acquisition, and restructuring financings.

CEO Armstrong had been president of Great American Group’s specialty lending division, GA Capital, and CIO of Great American Capital Partners. He co-founded Tygris Commercial Finance and was executive vice president there. He was also president of Tygris Corporate Finance, CEO of Black Diamond Commercial Finance, and senior managing director for GE Corporate Lending’s Vertical Industries.

Two Sigma Private Investments is the private markets investment division of Two Sigma. Great Rock Capital Partners is a Connecticut-based investment-management firm focusing on secured lending products for middle-market companies. — Abby Latour

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This story first appeared on www.lcdcomps.com, LCD’s subscription site offering complete news, analysis and data covering the global leveraged loan and high yield bond markets. You can learn more about LCD here.

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Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma benefit planned for May 24

The fifth annual Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma benefit and cocktail party is planned for May 24 at the Summer Garden and Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center. Funds raised at the event will support the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the world’s largest private funder of melanoma research, which was founded in 2007 by Debra and Leon Black under the auspices of the Milken Institute.

Since this event was launched in 2012, the leveraged finance community has come together and generously supported over $5 million of cutting-edge cancer research. These funded studies have accelerated advances in immunotherapy treatments that have led to breakthroughs like anti-PD-1 agents which are being used to treat melanoma, were recently approved to treat lung cancer, and are now being tested in other tumors including bladder, blood, and kidney cancers.

The event co-hosts are Brendan Dillon from UBS; Lee Grinberg from Elliott Management; George Mueller from KKR; Jeff Rowbottom from PSP Investments; Cade Thompson from KKR; and Trevor Watt from Hellman & Friedman. Attendees include the biggest names in leveraged finance, from all of the top banks, many investment houses, several law firms, select issuers, and some private equity sponsors. As with the prior events, LCD is a proud sponsor.

Due to ongoing operational support from its founders, 100% of donations to MRA go directly to support research programs working toward a cure for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Since MRA began its work, 11 new treatments have been approved by the FDA.

Funds raised from prior year events have supported six MRA research awards at institutions spanning the U.S. These projects focus on targeted and immunotherapy treatments, which boost the immune system to fight off cancer more effectively. The studies address critical research questions to advance the development of new therapies for melanoma patients and inform progress against cancer as a whole.

“We’re making tremendous breakthroughs in understanding and treating melanoma, including several new therapies that could be game-changers for the entire field of oncology,” said Jeff Rowbottom, LFFM co-host and MRA board member. “The Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma events have supported important research that is enabling innovations in the way we treat cancer.”

The objectives for the 2016 LFFM event are to increase awareness, to raise funds to further advance research, and to save lives. Melanoma awareness and early detection are vital when it comes to combating the disease; if melanoma is detected early—before it has spread beyond the skin—it is almost always treatable. Past events have led to many members of the leveraged finance community seeing dermatologists for skin checks and even to the discovery and treatment of several early stage melanomas.

Tickets are $300. For further information about the event and to purchase tickets, please visitcuremelanoma.thankyou4caring.org/lffm2016. Those seeking information about the event and sponsorship opportunities can contact Rachel Gazzerro of MRA at (202) 336-8947 or RGazzerro@curemelanoma.org. — Staff reports

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IT’SUGAR nets $21M loan from New Mountain Finance

IT’SUGAR received a $21 million first-lien term loan due 2019 (L+950) from New Mountain Finance Corp. in the most recent fiscal quarter.

The investment also included equity warrants, New Mountain’s10-K for the year ended Dec. 31 showed. IT’SUGAR is a portfolio company of middle market consumer brand firm Star Avenue Capital.

IT’SUGAR is a specialty retailer selling candy and gifts, including bags, accessories, baby products, jewelry, and headphones. It is the exclusive home for the world’s largest boxes of Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers, Sweetarts, and Pop Rocks.

The Deerfield Beach, Fla.–based company was founded by CEO Jeff Rubin and operates more than 80 locations around the U.S. and in London, Dubai, and Grand Cayman.

New Mountain Finance is a BDC that invests in debt, and some equity, targeting high-quality defensive growth companies. New Mountain Finance Advisers BDC manages investment activities. Shares trade on NYSE under the ticker NMFC. — Abby Latour

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