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Exclusive: Golub Capital considers buying GE Antares

  • President David Golub said non-bank lender is interested
  • Deal could transform landscape for middle-market lenders
  • Blackstone, Apollo, Ares, Oaktree, New York Life also may be circling

General Electric Co said April 10 that it would put the sponsor-lending unit up for sale as it moves to divest the bulk of its massive GE Capital finance operation in the face of regulatory pressure around big banks. GE will refocus on its industrial businesses.

When asked if Golub Capital would take a look at GE Antares, Golub said, “Yes.” He declined to comment further on the possible price for GE Antares.

A GE spokesman declined to comment.

J.P. Morgan and Citi are handling the sale process for GE Antares, according to market sources. A Citi spokeswoman declined to comment. J.P. Morgan did not immediately return a phone call.

Besides Golub, possible bidders include Apollo Global Management, Ares Management, Blackstone Group, Oaktree Capital Management, New York Life (which owns Madison Capital Funding), and others. Spokespeople for those firms did not comment.

GE Antares totaled about $16 billion in fourth-quarter ending net investment, which includes assets minus cash and non-interest-bearing liabilities, according to GE. The business offers long-term relationships with more than 300 private equity sponsors

As traditional investment banks have increased their focus on syndicated lending deals, middle-market providers of leverage have been expanding into the sector.

Jonathan Bock, a director at Wells Fargo Securities who follows the senior loan market, told Buyouts in March that non-bank commercial lenders seem to have a lot of running room ahead of them.

“There will continue to be a flight toward the non-bank model because of the enhanced flexibility it offers,” Bock said. “Banks will win the low-cost, plain-vanilla loan all the time, but we don’t live in a plain-vanilla world.”