December 12, 2017 / 12:37 AM / 10 months ago

FS Investments moves lending platform from Blackstone to KKR

(Reuters) - Debt investment company FS Investment Corp and buyout firm KKR are pooling together more than $18 billion in private capital to invest in mid-sized businesses, in a push to do bigger deals which are out of reach for other alternative lenders.

As a result, FS, which invests in the debt of private middle market U.S. companies, dropped a partnership with Blackstone Group LP.

The KKR deal will create the world’s largest business development company (BDC) platform, the companies said on Monday.

BDCs became popular with investors after the 2008 financial crisis as banks and other traditional lenders to companies retrenched, though their growth has slowed amid increasing competition in the sector.

“Scale enables you to do larger, upper middle market deals that you would not otherwise be able to do,” Mike Gerber, executive vice president at FS, said in an interview.

“That really matters right now because the private credit markets are very competitive, particularly in the middle and lower end of the market.”

Some $13.7 billion will come from FS Investments and a further $4.6 billion from Corporate Capital Trust, a BDC externally managed by KKR.

The KKR deal takes the place of FS Investments’ sub-advisory agreement with Blackstone, which said on Monday it is launching a new direct lending business.

Blackstone said the FS funds on its platform had generated strong investment performance, exceeding substantially all of the relevant market benchmarks.

FS will pay Blackstone $640 million in cash, representing approximately three years of revenues, to end the partnership.

Bennett Goodman, a senior managing director at Blackstone, said the parting of ways was mutual and that Blackstone wanted to have “100 percent control over our direct lending activities to the middle market.”

KKR said the deal will help it grow the assets under management at its credit business by 33 percent to $55 billion.

“Our sources and the data that we have found see this partnership taking KKR Credit from a top 10 player in private credit to a top three player,” CCT CEO and KKR Credit and Markets President Todd Builione said in an interview.

The partnership is subject to shareholder approval.

In a separate statement, FS Investments also said it is partnering with private equity firm EIG Global Energy Partners to create a $4 billion joint venture to finance energy and infrastructure companies.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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