Independent advisory firm bfinance has expanded its private debt consulting service with the appointment of Niels Bodenheim, a former executive director at GE Capital.
Bodenheim spent 14 years at GE Capital. In his new role, he will assist Peter Hobbs, head of private markets at bfinance, in providing research services covering a number of asset classes, including real estate, infrastructure, corporate debt and direct lending.
Bodenheim finished his time at GE Capital working on the firm’s commercial joint venture with Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi’s government investment vehicle, a role where he sourced more than $3 billion of commercial finance loans. Other roles at the firm included working at GE Corporate Finance Bank and GE Healthcare Financial Services. Bodenheim will be based in the firm’s London office.
Hobbs himself is relatively new to the firm, having joined in April as the consultancy firm continues to expand its work in advising on private debt strategies, an asset class that is increasing in popularity among institutional investors the firm said.
He said: “Private debt is an area that has seen a significant rise in interest from institutions as they search for better returns and our team of consultants and specialists has been advising a broad range of both pension funds and insurance companies to help them achieve their investment goals.”
Bodenheim’s appointment comes at an interesting time. Following the EU referendum vote, he said that there are “lots of opportunities to diversify from equities and investors will continue to increase their allocation to private debt as a result of Brexit”.
“Many asset managers have played through a number of cycles,” he added, concluding that investors will have increased confidence in direct lenders’ ability to source deals, protect portfolios from any unforeseen downside scenarios and obtain the returns they are looking for.
Deal sizes are on an upward trend. Bodenheim said that large unitranche deals are a result of the fact that valuations are going up, firms are raising larger funds and such funds are partnering up in club structures or syndicated structures.
“Direct lenders can compete with banks on these large deals, and the banks will continue retrenching from the market. There will be a reality check – valuation won’t continue to go up, but there is a lot of dry powder out there,” he said.
bfinance provides specialist advice to institutional investors spanning the globe. The firm operates from a number of offices internationally, including London, Amsterdam, Montreal, Munich, Paris and Sydney.