Exclusive: Benefit Street hires GSO energy MD

Providence Equity’s credit affiliate will offer direct lending to mid-market energy companies out of Houston.

Benefit Street Partners, the credit arm of private equity group Providence Equity Partners, has hired Tim Murray to originate energy investments for its direct lending business, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

Murray, who recently resigned from his position as managing director at Blackstone’s credit arm GSO Capital Partners, will effectively open an office in Houston, Texas, he said.

The move by the New York-based mid-market lender means that it will seek to tap a sector that is experiencing huge growth. Benefit Street’s first direct lending fund focused on its parent’s specialism, the media and communications industry and later funds expanded to include other sectors. A boom in shale gas exploration in the US represents potential deal flow that is too difficult to ignore, however, and is an opportunity for Benefit Street to diversify its portfolio, PDI understands.

Benefit Street Partners declined to comment. 

Blackstone had not responded at time of going to press.

Murray brings extensive experience to the new role with him, having spent almost three years at the credit arm of private equity giant Blackstone, six years at Chicago and New York-headquartered asset manager Guggenheim Partners and more than 21 years at Wells Fargo, according to his LinkedIn account.

He opened an office in Houston for Guggenheim in September 2005 and managed a staff of investment professionals who originated, closed and managed investments in the energy sector, as stated in his Blackstone profile.

Prior to that, Murray was an executive vice president and manager of Wells Fargo’s energy group and president of Wells Fargo Energy Capital, where he was responsible for commercial banking and alternative investments in the energy sector, managing offices in Dallas, Denver and Houston.

Benefit Street closed its third debt fund Providence Debt Fund III in April this year raising $1.75 billion to deploy in US mid-market direct lending, exceeding its target of $1 billion. In all, it manages more than $3.5 billion in private debt funds, around $1.75 billion in US CLOs and $1.4 billion allocated to a global credit long-short hedge fund strategy.

The firm is led by Thomas Gahan, former chief executive of Deutsche Bank Securities. Its senior managing directors are all ex-Deutsche Bank including president Richard Byrne who is also a former chief executive of the bank. 

Benefit Street recently hired Ray Costa, a former co-head of credit trading at Deutsche Bank. His new role at Benefit Street will see him responsible for high yield and distressed debt in a trading capacity, a second source said.

The credit arm which was established in 2008 manages more than $8.6 billion in assets as of 30 May 2014, across a broad range of credit strategies including middle market private debt, long-short liquid credit, long-only credit and commercial real estate debt.

This article was updated on 2 October to reflect that Benefit Street is based in New York, rather than Rhode Island, where its parent is headquartered and to reflect that it lends to a range of industries.