Alternative investment manager the Carlyle Group is expanding its lending business with the acquisition of Churchill Financial, a provider of debt financing to middle market companies.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition comes as Carlyle is preparing to go public sometime next year. The firm, which has assets of $153 billion, has been expanding into other areas of asset management outside of private equity, including CLOs.

In August, the firm acquired a $500 million CLO from The Foothill Group. In December 2010, it took over four CLOs previously managed by Mizuho Alternative Investment. And in August 2010 it acquired management contracts relating to CLOs previously managed by Stanfield Capital Partners.

As part of the Churchill transaction, which was announced today, 13 investment professionals have joined Carlyle’s global market strategies business, which has 115 professionals. In addition to CLOs, the unit manages mezzanine and energy mezzanine loans, high yield and structured credit, distressed equity and debt, long/short credit, and emerging market equities and macroeconomic strategies.

Ken Kencel,who leads the Churchill team, has been named a managing director of Carlyle, reporting to Mitch Petrick, head of the global market strategies group.

The Churchill team will continue managing a $1.25 billion CLO focused on senior loans to middle-market companies. However, the equity of the CLO will continue to be owned by Churchill Financial Group, a portfolio company of Olympus Partners.

“The Churchill transaction enhances the capabilities of the global market strategies platform at an attractive time for middle-market lending," Petrick said in a statement. 

Churchill was acquired by Olympus just 18 months ago. Since its founding in 2006, it has served as agent on more than $7 billion of senior credit facilities and committed more than $2.5 billion in debt capital to middle market companies.

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