Need To Meet: Mark Gertzof, Managing Director, Monroe Credit Advisors

If debt is the life-blood of the LBO industry, then Mark Gertzof holds the keys to the blood bank.

Gertzof co-heads Monroe Credit Advisors LLC, an advisory firm launched about six months ago to help mid-market companies navigate today’s turbulent credit markets. And when it comes to sponsor-clients, his number-one role is that of a divining rod—seeking out the liquidity needed to get deals done in today’s arid environment.

“There’s a large number of lenders out there, but it’s not always transparent as to which lenders are active and where their sweet spot is,” Gertzof said. “Because we’re in the market every day, we know which lenders are right for which transactions.”

Monroe Credit Advisors has relationships with close to 300 sources of debt capital, including commercial finance firms, opportunistic debt funds, second lien providers, mezzanine lenders and minority equity co-investors, Gertzof said.

In terms of size, the firm specializes in setting up credit facilities anywhere from $5 million to $10 million on the low end to $75 million to $100 million on the high end. The firm also provides restructuring advice, typically in combination with a refinancing.

Like the other professionals at Monroe Credit Advisors, Gertzof started out on the origination side of the credit market. With 20 years of experience, he most recently served a six-year stint as a managing director at Merrill Lynch Capital where he co-managed the Midwest regional leveraged lending team comprised of 11 professionals. The team targeted transactions in the $20 million to $400 million range. In the last three years of Merrill Lynch Capital, Gertzof closed more than $2 billion in commitments through 46 transactions.

When Merrill Lynch Capital was acquired by GE Capital in early 2008, Gertzof first considered teaming up with some ex-Merrill colleagues to start a lending concern of their own. “Then I recognized that there was a greater need for middle market debt advisory; that the market had changed and that I could be more value added from that perspective,” he said.

Gertzof teamed up with Christopher Gentry, who he met earlier in his career while working at BankBoston, and the pair partnered with Chicago lender Monroe Capital to form Monroe Credit Advisors. Since its founding in late July, the advisory shop as growth three-fold to include six full-time professionals—all with origination backgrounds. In December, the firm announced the opening of a Boston office headed by Linda Crothers and Katherine Brand, both formerly of Bank of America.

Monroe Credit Advisors works under a success-based compensation model. More than 90 percent of the firm’s compensation comes when a transaction successfully closes. Traditionally, the fee is based on a percentage of the total amount of debt capital the firm helped raise.

Contact info:Phone: 312-523-2377