Jefferies Group and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. have agreed to double their equity investment in Jefferies Babson Finance, a venture the two firms formed in October 2004. Each will contribute another $125 million, to bring the total equity to $500 million, to allow the firm to continue to grow its business of offering senior loans to middle-market and growth companies. The firm was initially capitalized with $250 million in equity commitments provided by Jefferies Group and Babson Capital's parent, MassMutual.
"I feel good about the middle market, there are opportunities there moving forward," said Carl Toriello, senior managing director and head loan officer at the firm. "It is not as congested as the large cap market." He said the additional equity will allow the group to do deals in the $250 million to $300 million area, but the focus will still remain on the middle market.
The group led or co-led nine transactions in 2005. It garnered its first sole lead in June on a $175 million transaction to back the acquisition of Thilmany, a manufacturer of pressure sensitive paper, by Kohlberg & Co. The financing consists of a $30 million revolver and a $145 million term loan. It worked with Credit Suisse on a $155 million deal to back Genstar Capital's acquisition of Panolam Industries in October. And it was recently a sole lead arranger on a $50 million transaction to back the acquisition of FrontRange Solutions by Francisco Partners.
Toriello estimated the group committed to facilities totaling somewhere between $800-900 million. He said the goal is to be committed to between $2.5 billion and $3 billion in its third year.
The firm recently hired three staff members including Paul McDonnell from GE Capital, Robert Gamba from Scotia Capital and Crandall Deery, also from GE Capital. McDonnell works on the group's portfolio; Gamba heads up one of the structuring teams and Deery is an associate. Toriello said he intends to hire additional personnel, potentially three to four people in the next three to six months.