Avenue Capital Provides Loan for H.I.G.’s Freedom Finance Buy

Avenue Capital Group said  Wednesday it has provided a loan to support H.I.G. Europe’s buy of Freedom Finance Nordic. Avenue Capital also made a minority equity investment in Freedom. The debt facilities provided by Avenue closed in early May.  H.I.G. Europe announced yesterday it had acquired Freedom, a prime consumer loan broker operating in Sweden, Norway and Finland


LONDON, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Avenue Capital Group, a global investment firm focused on the private and public debt, equity and real estate markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia, today announced it has acted as sole lender and agent in connection with the debt financing of the acquisition of Freedom Finance Nordic, the largest prime consumer loan broker operating in Sweden, Norway and Finland, by H.I.G. Europe .  Avenue also has made a minority equity investment in Freedom Finance Nordic alongside H.I.G. Europe , the European arm of global private equity firm H.I.G. Capital.  The debt facilities provided by Avenue consist of a unitranche acquisition facility and a revolving credit facility. They closed in early May 2013.

“Avenue is very pleased to have been able to provide the debt facilities to Freedom Finance Nordic, which, under the stewardship of H.I.G. Europe , is expected to continue its rapid growth in serving the consumer loans market in Scandinavia,” said Marc Lasry , the Chairman and CEO of Avenue Capital Group.   “This financing was the first completed by our recently formed direct lending team, which provides an alternative source of debt financing predominantly to mid-sized European corporate borrowers with limited access to traditional lines of credit following the financial crisis.”

Peter Lockhead , who joined Avenue from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is the Portfolio Manager leading the firm’s direct lending initiative in Europe.  The team also includes Luis Mayans , who joined Avenue from GE Capital’s Leveraged Finance team in London, and Cliff Wagner , who was previously with Cerberus European Capital Management in London.

Avenue’s Europe Strategy is led by Senior Portfolio Manager Richard Furst , who oversees a team of 22 dedicated investment professionals in London and Munich.  Mr. Furst also serves as Avenue’s Chief Investment Officer.

About Freedom Finance
Freedom Finance is the leading Nordic unsecured consumer loan broker with operations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Founded in 2003, the company today markets, processes, and distributes loan applications for all unsecured borrowing uses such as loan refinancing, vehicle purchase, holiday financing and home refurbishments. Through its co-operation with more than 20 lenders, Freedom Finance is able to provide highly competitive terms for borrowers across a broad range of credit profiles, thereby providing a free, rapid and effective comparison service to the benefit of potential borrowers. The Company is headquartered in Angelholm (Sweden) with offices in Bergen (Norway) and Espoo (Finland) and currently employs more than 100 fulltime employees.

About Avenue Capital Group
Avenue Capital Group is a global investment firm focused the private and public debt, equity and real estate markets in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  The firm is headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Luxembourg and Munich, and five offices throughout Asia.  As of March 31, 2013, Avenue oversees approximately $11.5 billion of assets under management, on behalf of a sophisticated global base of institutional investors, the majority of which is pension funds, and also includes family offices, foundations, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds.  Avenue was founded in 1995 by Marc Lasry and Sonia Gardner and draws on the skills and experience of approximately 200 employees worldwide.