LPC-Barclays aims to increase presence in middle market debt

A Barclays sign is seen outside a branch of the bank in London, Britain, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

(Reuters) - Barclays BARC.L is increasing its focus on the middle market financial sponsored market, prompted by growing opportunities.

The bank has set up a dedicated team to target opportunities from its debt finance department. They will work alongside Barclays’ industry coverage and investment banking teams and tap into established relationships with direct lenders to source and underwrite deals.

Barclays has previously worked with BlueBay on financing middle market loans, and has an existing partnership with Ares as well as with a number of other funds.

Direct lenders in Europe have found increasing opportunities in the sponsor-backed space. Last year, funds financed 179 unitranches across the continent, according to GCA Altium, up from 102 in the previous year.

Private equity firms have a large amount to deploy in Europe holding US$207bn in uncommitted capital in 2017, according to data provider Preqin, US$5bn short of the 2016 total.

Recently Barclays has been active in the middle market, financing a combined £300m senior secured notes and revolver for Pinewood Group and serving as the lead arranger on a £255m debt package for Radius Payment Solutions.

The bank said it has the capacity to provide deal sizes across all ranges and underwrite a variety of structures.

Ian Tetsill, managing director, structured finance at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “We have listened to what our clients have said they need. Our new structure across debt finance will help us to develop deeper relationships and support growth.”

Editing by Christopher Mangham