UPDATED -- Buyers are vying for GE Antares, the jewel in the crown of GE Capital Sponsor Finance, the group within GE Capital that makes loans to private equity-backed companies. General Electric (NYSE: GE), which announced earlier in April it would sell GE Capital to focus on its core industrial business, has reportedly distributed non-disclosure agreements to a dozen bidders, including Apollo Management, Ares Management and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., which are contemplating purchasing GE Capital as a whole or in parts. Oaktree Capital Group LLC chair Bruce Karsh told investors the distressed debt investor is evaluating parts of GE Capital. Much of the interest is zeroing in on GE Capital Sponsor Finance, which, in addition to GE Antares, includes TMT, GE Equity and the Bank Loan Group. GE Antares is of particular interest, due to its relationships with hundreds of private equity firms.
David Brackett, who serves as CEO of GE Antares today, was there at the beginning, when he and other executives left Heller Financial back in 1996 to form Antares Capital, with backing from Mass Mutual Life Insurance Co. Then in 2001, GE Capital bought Heller for $5.3 billion in cash. And in 2005, GE Capital bought Antares, doubling its middle-market lending business with the move. Today, GE Capital is the largest lender in the middle market. It has won Mergers & Acquisitions M&A Mid-Market Lender of the Year award twice first for 2010 and most recently for 2014. Mergers & Acquisitions caught up with Brackett to ask his assessment of the current climate for middle-market loans and to tell us why GE Antares is so attractive to bidders. Mergers & Acquisitions caught up with Brackett to ask his assessment of the current climate for middle-market loans. Brackett declined to comment on the impending sale of GE Capital.