Investment management firm Babson Capital Management expanded its offices in the Asia Pacific region by forming an eight-member team to source mezzanine debt and private equity investment opportunities in the region.

The firm also received an Australian Financial Securities License (AFSL), which allows it to manage a broad range of investments, including mezzanine debt, in Australia.  

Babson Capital’s Asia Pacific investment team, which has four based in Sydney and four in Asia and the U.S., will target investments in mezzanine debt and equity securities of middle-market firms in Australia and New Zealand as well as select developed countries in Asia, such as Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

The new additions to the Sydney team include Shane Forster and Adam Wheeler, who join Babson Capital as managing directors and will share portfolio management and investment sourcing responsibilities.  Forster and Wheeler are joined in Sydney by Elliott Wong, director, and Adrian Ng, associate director, who came to Babson Capital when the firm assumed management of a AUD$200 million mezzanine debt portfolio they managed for an affiliate of Babcock & Brown.

Forster and Wheeler were previously at AMP Capital Investors, a mezzanine provider in the Asia Pacific region, where they managed over AUD$700 million in Asian and Australian mezzanine and private debt investments.

Aside from Managing Director Michael P. Hermsen, working with the Sydney-based team are Benjamin W. Silver, a managing director in Los Angeles as well as Asia-based Adam Nowak, consultant, and Howe Wu, director. Hermsen co-heads the firm’s mezzanine and private equity group and will oversee the firm’s Asia Pacific team.

Babson Capital’s mezzanine and private equity group was formed in 1992 and now has a staff of 21. The unit directly or indirectly manages around $5 billion in mezzanine and private equity investments. The firm has additional European mezzanine and private equity capabilities in its Babson Capital Europe unit.  

“The Asia Pacific region offers attractive opportunities for profitable mezzanine investing due to the region’s strong economic outlook, increasing demand for mezzanine as a source of buyout financing, and a pullback by traditional investors in the marketplace as a result of the global financial crisis,” Hermsen said.“Babson Capital is well positioned to capitalize on these opportunities with a team that has both deep experience in mezzanine and private equity investing and the established relationships with private equity sponsors that are needed to generate significant deal flow.”

“Babson Capital has been investing with private equity firms in the Asia Pacific region since 2005 and we believe these prior relationships, in addition to the talent and personal relationships that our new team members bring to Babson Capital, will be valuable in securing access to high-quality mezzanine investment opportunities for our investors,” Hermsen said.

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