Although unitranche structures have been popular for middle market M&A deals in recent years, especially since the financial crisis, now senior cash flow lenders and mezzanine lenders are picking up market share, according to experts. In part, the competition is driven by the amount of debt capital that has been raised, which has been outstripping the pace of deal flow.

Before 2013, the terms and conditions of unitranche loans, which combine senior and subordinated debt into one product, often "tipped the scales in their favor," says Christine Tiseo, managing director at Lincoln International. Chicago-based Lincoln often runs the financing processes for deals of less than $40 million of Ebitda.

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