Siena Lending Group LLC announced its formal launch and the completion of its developmental phase. Siena's creation, engineered by operating financier Michael Carrazza, is the latest portfolio company sponsored by Solaia Capital, a private investment firm engaged in the acquisition and development of middle market companies. Siena is actively providing small and middle market businesses with secured, asset based lending ("ABL") loans between $1 and $20 million across the United States.
Siena's unique strategy positions it to target what, until now, has been a void in lower middle market lending and will take on the role of assisting community banking executives in combating deteriorating net interest margins, interest rate risk and asset diversification issues.
"Our hybrid business model was designed to address a widening gap between community banks and commercial business lending," said Michael Carrazza, who has been named Chairman of Siena. "Siena provides financing solutions for businesses with leverageable assets, while offering origination and servicing capabilities for participating banks. This provides community bank partners the ability to acquire high quality, variable rate, economically attractive loans without direct cost or increased SG&A. Moreover, the intensive loan monitoring required for ABL loans is managed by Siena's team at institutional standards, which small banks cannot readily replicate."
Siena has significant capacity to underwrite and service ABL loans held on balance sheet and will additionally service ABL loans held on the balance sheets of participating community banks. Loans that reside on a bank's balance sheet may be originated by Siena or by the bank itself, directly or through Siena's private label product. Siena has secured agreements with two regulated institutions prior to its launch and has witnessed overwhelming demand given the attractiveness of the business model and team's historical performance.
Siena is managed by the former executive team of Burdale Capital Finance, Inc., the U.S. asset-based lending division of Bank of Ireland. BCF was led by David Grende, its president and CEO, who built a first rate team that underwrote over $2.5 billion in ABL loans with an outstanding performance record. As a result of the mandatory deleveraging of Irish banks by the International Monetary Fund, Bank of Ireland was required to divest of certain assets, which included BCF. BCF's $1.2 billion U.S. portfolio was sold to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in 2012; in connection with the transaction, Solaia Capital transitioned the core BCF team to Siena. Grende retains the position of President and CEO.
"I am thrilled to be leading Siena and believe there is tremendous opportunity to provide a solution for companies to maximize their potential for growth, profitability and success," said Grende. "Our business model and capabilities are at the intersection of market need, while providing banks with an attractive option that never previously existed." Grende is a veteran ABL executive and actively involved in the Commercial Finance Association as a member of its Executive Committee and Chairman of its Finance Committee.
Advisors to Solaia Capital on the transaction included Blank Rome LLP, KPMG LLP, and Robinson & Cole LLP.
Siena Lending Group is an independent commercial finance company offering asset based loans between $1 and $20 million to small and middle market businesses across the United States. Siena also offers a turn-key servicing platform, which provides an attractive asset based product for community and regional banks that desire improved operating metrics and asset diversification.
Solaia Capital Advisors is an investment management firm specializing in the investment, acquisition and recapitalization of middle-market businesses.