GrowthCap is pleased to announce The Top Private Debt Firms of 2023. It has been several years since we last ran this awards process and while the private debt market has continued to grow considerably to an estimated $1.5 trillion, the leadership and positioning of firms within the market has varied. Our awards process, based on nomination submissions and further in-depth research, attempts to capture a more holistic view of firms and not simply firms listed by assets under management and/or returns, as those metrics oftentimes do not indicate to a company CEO and management team how good of a partner that firm will be to the company and its long-term success.
Strong private debt firms possess a combination of attributes ranging from deep analytical rigor to the cultivation of meritocratic and collaborative firm cultures to the earned respect of some of the most sophisticated corporate borrowers. Leading this year’s list is Golub Capital whose clear focus to be the best in sponsor finance is being accomplished through its dedication to nurturing long-term relationships and helping its partners succeed. Meanwhile, GoldenTree has become one of the largest independent global credit managers. Its focus on culture and a path to partnership for its employees has created an enduring engine for continued firm growth.
Notably, the other private debt firms being recognized this year are also remarkable partners to corporations. They each leverage their own unique capabilities to ensure management teams have the optimal capital and support to accomplish their business goals and objectives.
Please join us in recognizing and celebrating the achievements of The Top Private Debt Firms of 2023.
Golub Capital is a market-leading, award-winning direct lender and experienced credit asset manager. The firm specializes in delivering reliable, creative, and compelling financing solutions to companies backed by private equity sponsors. Golub’s sponsor finance expertise also forms the foundation of its Broadly Syndicated Loan and Credit Opportunities investment programs. Golub nurtures long-term, win-win partnerships that inspire repeat business from private equity sponsors and investors.
As of October 1, 2023, Golub Capital had over 850 employees and over $60 billion of capital under management, a gross measure of invested capital including leverage. The firm has lending offices in New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and London.
“We thank all our partners—private equity firms and investors—for their confidence in Golub Capital. Next year will be our 30th anniversary—and 30 years of nurturing win-win partnerships. As we look ahead, we remain committed to our mission to be best in sponsor finance and to our model of shared success.”—David Golub, President
GoldenTree is a 100% employee-owned, global asset management firm that specializes in opportunities across the credit universe in sectors such as high yield bonds, leveraged loans, private credit, distressed debt, structured products, emerging markets, private equity and credit-themed equities. Founded in 2000 by Steven Tananbaum, GoldenTree is one of the largest independent global credit asset managers with over $51 billion in assets under management across a broad platform of alternative and fixed income strategies. The firm has a demonstrated over 20-year track record of deploying capital across sector, industry and geography that has delivered attractive absolute and relative performance.
GoldenTree’s fundamental, value-based investment approach—consistently implemented for over 25 years—emphasizes a high margin of safety, attractive relative value, and a catalyst to drive total return. This process is executed by the firm’s experienced investment team comprising over 90 investment professionals with on average 15 years of investment experience. The firm’s partnership structure, along with significant employee and partner commitments to the firm’s strategies, creates a strong alignment of interests with its investors. GoldenTree has over 290 employees, with offices in New York, West Palm Beach, Charlotte, Newport Beach, London, Dublin, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Dubai.
“Over the last 24 years, cultivating excellent investing strategies across the credit landscape has been a cornerstone of GoldenTree’s success. Our team’s seasoned expertise, strategic foresight, and deep understanding of complex market dynamics have positioned us to consistently deliver superior investment performance and financial solutions. As we look ahead, I am enthusiastic about the potential to further deepen our impact in private credit specifically, leveraging our strengths to create enduring value and differentiated returns for our stakeholders.”—Lee Kruter, Partner and Head of Performing Credit
Churchill, an investment-specialist affiliate of Nuveen (the $1.1T asset manager of TIAA), is an award-winning U.S. middle market private capital manager offering clients customized solutions across the capital structure. The firm has a 17-year track record of disciplined investing throughout multiple economic cycles and is supported by 160 professionals across five U.S. offices.
Over $25 billion of Churchill’s committed capital is dedicated to private debt strategies, including first lien, unitranche, second lien and mezzanine debt, in support of private equity backed middle market transactions. In a market that is down 40% year-over-year, Churchill’s differentiated sourcing approach and scaled platform with 450+ portfolio companies, has provided fulsome deal flow and add-on investment opportunities, keeping the firm’s position steadily at the top of industry league tables. Churchill was named the #2 U.S. Direct Lender for all of H1 2023 and the #1 U.S. Direct Lender for Q3 2023 by KBRA Direct Lending Deals.
Churchill’s thought leadership publication, the Lead Left, has reached 43K+ subscribers and continues to be a premier, highly valued source for information on middle market private debt trends.
“We have provided flexible financing solutions to private equity-backed U.S. middle market companies for over 17 years and through several economic cycles. This year has been no different. We are delighted to be recognized as one of GrowthCap’s Top Private Debt Firms of 2023 as we continue to support our clients as a trusted and active partner amid the current uncertain macroeconomic environment. Thank you to our terrific team for their contributions in making Churchill the market-leading private debt platform it is today.”—Ken Kencel, President & CEO
First Eagle Alternative Credit, LLC. (FEAC) is a credit-focused investment manager with $21 billion of assets under management, $5.7 billion of which is invested through its direct lending platform focused on private equity-backed U.S. middle market companies across various industries. The bespoke senior-secured lending facilities the firm structures for its borrowers represent complete financing solutions, including revolvers, term loans, delayed draw term loans and follow-on debt raises to support incremental upsizes. First Eagle’s discipline, flexibility and experience through numerous credit cycles have enabled it to be a steadfast partner to its private equity partners and portfolio companies across various market conditions. First Eagle’s seniority in the capital stack positions it to take advantage of the favorable industry tailwinds by displacing traditional banks, enabling it to deploy commitments with strong risk-adjusted returns while also mitigating downside risk for its investor base of institutions and individuals.
“We are elated to accept this award from GrowthCap, it’s a testament to the efforts across our firm to serve as a disciplined, relationship-focused credit manager. For over 15 years we have sought to establish long-term partnerships with company management alongside their financial sponsors and to be prudent fiduciaries of our investors’ capital.”—Chris Flynn, President
Prospect Capital Management is an SEC registered investment adviser that was founded in 1988 (along with its predecessors). Prospect invests across the United States in diversified portfolios by industry, company, and situation, and its proprietary underwriting process and metrics have been developed over more than 30 years and through multiple economic cycles. Prospect has over 120 employees and $11.8 billion of assets under management.
With a buy-and-hold mentality, Prospect’s objectives are to preserve capital by making credit and equity-focused investments at reasonable multiples of recurring cash flow, earn attractive current cash yields and long-term capital appreciation while achieving consistent low-volatility returns.
“We are proud of our long history of providing important capital to U.S. middle market businesses while delivering to our shareholders consistent returns. We have locations across the U.S. and manage a large and diversified investment portfolio. We are among the leading providers of capital to the middle market. Thank you to GrowthCap for recognizing our longstanding approach and dedication.”—John Barry, CEO
Centerbridge Partners, L.P. is a global alternative investment manager with approximately $38 billion in capital under management as of September 30, 2023. The firm’s philosophy unifies perspectives across private equity, private credit and real estate and applies them across select sectors and geographies. Centerbridge’s differentiated investment approach has been consistently utilized over nearly two decades to identify and execute attractive investments over the course of the economic cycle, allowing it to continue to create and preserve value for its limited partners.
Since its founding in 2005, Centerbridge’s One Team spirit has fostered a culture of collaboration and creative thinking in pursuit of investment opportunities across the full investment cycle. Within its private credit platform, Centerbridge looks to identify businesses and complex special situations that have been either overlooked or misunderstood by the market.
“Centerbridge was founded on the complementary relationship between private equity, private credit and real estate. Since inception, we have expanded to offer a broad set of private credit solutions to businesses with needs ranging from growth capital to rescue financing. Through the range of platforms that we offer, we have grown the depth and breadth of our team, while seeking to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors.”—Jeff Aronson, Co-Founder and Managing Principal
Vista Credit Partners is the credit-investing arm of Vista, a pioneer in enterprise software investing with over $100 billion AUM (as of 6/30/2023). Vista Credit Partners has deployed over $11.0 billion across more than 560 transactions and currently manages over $7.7 billion in assets. Vista Credit Partners has broad investing capabilities spanning the private and traded credit markets, including a FounderDirect offering, which specializes in direct financings for founder-run enterprise software companies. Over the last 18 months, Vista Credit Partners has experienced increased traction through its FounderDirect channel, executing more than 24 transactions with $1.5 billion deployed (as of 09/30/23). The Credit team benefits from the Vista ecosystem to execute efficiently and build long-term, meaningful relationships with founders and sponsors.
“Founders and management teams of late-stage, category-leading enterprise software companies are turning to Vista Credit Partners to help them achieve their next milestone. We are proud to provide tailored alternative financing solutions and play a key role in their ongoing growth and success.”—David Flannery, President of Vista Credit Partners and Senior Managing Director at Vista
Thoma Bravo is one of the world’s largest software investors with a 40+ year history and over $131 billion in AUM as of June 30, 2023. Thoma Bravo Credit has over $5 billion in AUM and has collectively invested over $7 billion since its inception in 2017. A natural extension of its industry focus and expertise, Thoma Bravo Credit is a direct lending strategy focused primarily on making senior secured debt investments in market-leading, mission-critical enterprise software and technology companies. The platform has multi-channel sourcing capabilities leveraging its broad range of third-party sponsor relationships, select Thoma Bravo equity transactions, and the firm’s broader network resulting in differentiated origination opportunities.
“We believe the enterprise software industry will continue to exhibit differentiated resilience and growth amidst growing geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty. Leveraging Thoma Bravo’s long-standing history and deep expertise in enterprise software, we believe Thoma Bravo Credit is uniquely positioned to capitalize on borrowers’ demand for certainty, speed and confidentiality and deliver for our investors.”— Oliver Thym, a Partner at Thoma Bravo who leads Thoma Bravo Credit.
WhiteHorse is the direct lending affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, a leading global alternative investment firm founded in 1993 with $59 billion of equity capital under management.* WhiteHorse provides debt financing to middle market companies across a broad range of industries, including business services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, food/agriculture, and specialty finance. WhiteHorse has a broad investment mandate and provides senior and subordinated debt for refinancings, growth capital, acquisitions, buyouts, and balance sheet recapitalizations. WhiteHorse professionals, across the U.S. and Europe, have extensive experience and a proven track record of providing creative financing structures and employing a long-term relationship-oriented portfolio management philosophy.
*Based on total capital raised by H.I.G. Capital and its affiliates.
“The WhiteHorse team employs a collaborative approach, working closely with our borrowers to provide flexible, creative lending solutions that help them achieve their goals. We offer decades of experience, a relationship-focused mindset, and underwriting expertise across a range of industries and capital structures. We are honored to be recognized by GrowthCap as a Top Private Debt Firm.”—Stuart Aronson, Executive Managing Director and CEO of WhiteHorse U.S.
“Our team offers significant experience across industry sectors and financing structures, with expertise in complex situations and custom financing. We are proud of the long-term relationships we’ve established with our borrowers that allow us to support and grow with them over time, and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.”—Pankaj Gupta, President of WhiteHorse U.S. & Global Head of Origination
400 Capital Management is an alternative asset manager led by a management team with over three decades of experience investing and trading in credit markets. Founded in 2008, the firm has grown into a recognized, market-proven, process-oriented platform with a demonstrated ability to consistently generate competitive returns, develop capital markets businesses, and create innovative solutions utilized throughout the market. The firm offers investors a global platform that accesses differentiated credit investment opportunities through total and absolute return strategies in flagship funds and customized portfolio solutions. As of October 1, 2023, the team consists of 63 professionals across offices in New York and London, who collectively manage $5.8 billion for global institutional investors.
“400 Capital strives to be the leading solution for institutional investors to access the large, idiosyncratic, return-rich opportunity set in structured and securitized credit markets. We continually invest in a platform that offers best-in-class ideas, processes and investment options that align with investors’ objectives and consistently generate competitive returns.”—Chris Hentemann, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer
MGG Investment Group is a private investment firm that provides bespoke solutions to mid-size, growing North American middle market companies. MGG’s hands-on, creative, and flexible approach enables it to invest across the capital structure, providing senior secured debt financings as well as preferred and minority common equity investments. The firm focuses on businesses across sectors with EBITDA between $5 million and $50 million who are seeking growth or transition capital. Backed by a seasoned and experienced senior investment team, MGG has a track record of quickly analyzing and deploying capital into complex situations across cycles while seeking to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns for investors. Founded in 2014, MGG is based in New York City with offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta.
“MGG was founded on the premise that by leveraging a differentiated sourcing network and adhering to disciplined underwriting and risk management, we can deliver superior results to our partners. We are grateful for the support of our investors, who have entrusted us to protect and grow their capital, as well as that of our borrowers, with whom we work collaboratively to build lasting value. We look forward to continuing to serve as a lender of choice in what we believe is the most compelling investing environment for our strategy since the global financial crisis.”—Kevin Griffin, CEO and CIO
Man Varagon is a specialist middle-market direct lender, focused on creating value-added financing solutions to private equity sponsors and investors in private credit since 2014. The firm’s approach is highly selective, focusing exclusively on direct lending to the core middle market, structuring loans to non-cyclical businesses in the U.S., operating in recession-resilient sectors, typically with an EBITDA of between US$ 10 million and US$ 75 million. As a trusted partner for sponsors, Man Varagon has completed financing for over 310 borrowers.
“We’ve been around a substantial number of years and have remained focused on the massive opportunity in the core middle market since day one. Man Varagon set out to be one of the top lenders in the core market and will stay there by having a defensive strategy with limited style drift and is focused on producing risk alpha for clients and sponsors. We are honored to be recognized by GrowthCap for our firms’ contributions in the middle market space.”—Charles Riceman, Co-Head of Direct Lending, Head of Investment Originations & Capital Markets
Multiplier Capital is a $1+ billion growth financing platform that invests in rapidly growing, professionally-backed technology companies with particular focus in enterprise software, digital media, healthcare IT, consumer e-commerce, and tech-enabled services. Multiplier applies an enterprise value-driven approach to its debt investments, which enables it to provide bespoke debt solutions to each of its portfolio companies. As a growth capital provider that provides loans from $5 million to $50 million, Multiplier seeks to increase its loan positions in its portfolio companies as they expand, and play a role in the capital structure of its borrower partners through multiple stages of their growth.
Multiplier’s partners have invested over $1.6 billion in capital across more than 165 transactions over the past 20+ years, applying 90 years in combined experience to offer flexible and creative debt solutions to its portfolio companies. The firm strives for partnership, not just financial investment, and prides itself in offering a differentiated experience that is reflective of its core principles.
“We’re honored to be recognized as one of GrowthCap’s Top Private Debt Firms for 2023. It is our privilege to work alongside so many great companies, management teams and equity sponsors to help drive their success. For over ten years, Multiplier has been dedicated to providing flexible, bespoke debt financing for technology growth companies, and we’re proud of the results we’ve achieved for both our borrower-partners and our investors. This award is testimony to the talented and committed professionals at our firm. We look forward to continuing to serve the tech community in the months and years ahead.”—Kevin Sheehan and Henry O’Connor, Founding Partners
Founded in 2010, Star Mountain is a specialized U.S. lower middle-market asset management firm focused on two investment strategies: 1) providing debt and equity capital to established, growing small and medium-sized companies; and 2) purchasing LP positions, generally at a discount, from other investors in lower middle-market funds. Star Mountain manages $3.5+ billion of AUM (committed capital including debt facilities as of 10/31/23) through funds and SMAs for some of the world’s most sophisticated investors, including individuals, family offices, insurance companies, wealth managers, endowments / foundations, and public / corporate pension plans. The firm is purpose-built to capitalize on the inefficiencies within the lower middle-market focused on generating systematic alpha and low market correlated returns in an aligned manner with its investors.
Star Mountain is 100% employee-owned and 100% of employees share in the investment profits across 100+ team members and senior advisors / operating partners. Star Mountain’s specialty is helping grow privately-owned businesses, both organically and through acquisitions, that have at least $15 million of annual revenues, and under $50 million of EBITDA. Star Mountain has closed 200+ direct investments and 40+ secondary / fund investments since its inception.
“At Star Mountain Capital we specialize in providing flexible capital solutions to established small and medium sized U.S. businesses and as we’ve increased our assets under management from our institutional and individual investor partners over the years, we’ve consistently invested in team, technology and infrastructure to enhance Star Mountain’s specialized investment capabilities. We value all our stakeholders and through our aligned business model ensuring 100% of our U.S. team shares in investment profits, we also support community impact through the Star Mountain Charitable Foundation.”—Brett Hickey, Founder & CEO
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