Exclusive: Apollo nears deal for Fortress' stake in OneMain - sources

Leon Black, Chairman and CEO Apollo Global Management, LLC, takes part in Private Equity: Rebalancing Risk session during the 2014 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 29, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

(Reuters) - Private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC APO.N is nearing a deal to acquire investment firm Fortress Investment Group LLC's stake in U.S. subprime lender OneMain Holdings Inc OMF.N, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The deal would come after OneMain abandoned a process to sell itself outright last year, because the offers it received failed to meet its valuation expectations. It allows Fortress, which completed its $3.3 billion sale to SoftBank Group Corp 9984.T last week, to cash out on its investment in OneMain.

The transaction is expected to value Fortress’ stake of around 44 percent in OneMain at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, and could be announced as early as Thursday, assuming talks do not fall apart at the last minute, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.

Apollo declined to comment, while OneMain and Fortress did not respond to requests for comment.

OneMain, which has provided loans and other credit products to more than 10 million customers in 44 states according to its website, was Citigroup Inc's C.N former consumer lending arm, CitiFinancial, until it was renamed in 2011. It specializes in loans to meet unexpected expenses such as medical bills or car repairs, and to buy small-ticket items.

OneMain, which has a market capitalization of $3.6 billion, was created in its current form in 2015, when Fortress acquired OneMain from Citigroup for $4.25 billion in cash and merged it with one of its existing portfolio companies, Springleaf Holdings Inc.

The deal with Apollo would mark the latest exit by Fortress from a portfolio company. Among Fortress’ recent divestments are Florida East Coast Railway and bond fund manager Logan Circle Partners.

For Apollo, the deal represents a way to own a big chunk of OneMain without engaging in a full leveraged buyout, given that the company is already saddled with more than $14 billion in long-term debt.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Tom Brown