It is not lost on Capital Southwest’s management that they are latecomers in the credit cycle to the increasingly crowded playing field of middle-market lending.
The company is undergoing a transformation that will create two publicly traded entities: an internally managed BDC that will focus on lending to middle-market companies and retain the Capital Southwest name, and a diversified growth company called CSW Industrials.
Shareholders of Capital Southwest will receive stock in CSW Industrials as a tax-free dividend. Shares in CSW Industrials are due to begin trading on Oct. 1 on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol CSWI. The company split was unveiled in December 2014.
On the eve of the transaction, management says they are prepared for the challenges.
“We wake up every morning with the worry about entering late in the credit cycle,” Bowen Diehl said. Diehl, the company’s chief investment officer hired in early 2014, will become CEO of the new Capital Southwest. Michael Sarner, hired in July, will become CFO following the spin-off. Both Diehl and Sarner previously worked at American Capital. “But we’re buyers of assets, so maybe the sell-off will take some of the froth out of the market.”
At least initially, the Dallas-based company will use geography to differentiate itself, originating most of transactions from a network of relationships in the southwest and southern U.S. Although Texas-based, they have little energy exposure among legacy equity investments.
They plan to assemble a granular credit portfolio across asset classes and industries.
To execute their plan, Capital Southwest announced a partnership this month with rival BDC Main Street Capital, based in Houston. Capital Southwest will initially inject $68 million into the joint-venture fund, and Main Street, $17 million. Capital Southwest will own 80% of the fund, and share in 75.6% of profits. Main Street will own 20%, and have a profits interest of 24.4%.
“Main Street has a robust and well-established origination platform in first-lien syndicated credits. To develop that, we’d have to hire three to four people. We think this is a win-win for shareholders of both Capital Southwest and Main Street,” said Diehl in an interview.
In January, Capital Southwest hired Douglas Kelley, who had been a managing director in American Capital’s sponsor finance practice for middle market companies. In June, Capital Southwest announced the hiring of Josh Weinstein from H.I.G. WhiteHorse, to source direct-lending and middle-market syndicated credits. Capital Southwest also expanded their team with the hiring of a couple of associates.
Thus, Capital Southwest’s team is largely set for the near term.
As part of the transition, Capital Southwest has divested $210 million of equity investments in the past 15 months, realizing $181 million of capital gains. In the future, equity exposure in the investment portfolio will be capped at 10-15%.
“We are no longer a buy-and-hold-indefinitely investment company,” said Diehl.
The company has already begun to ramp up the new credit portfolio, investing $42 million in eight middle-market credit investments.
Among these investments are a $7 million, second-lien loan (L+875) to data collection company Research Now; a $7 million second-lien loan (L+925) to Boyd Corp.; a $5 million second-lien loan (L+800) to retailer Bob’s Discount Furniture; and a $5 million second-lien loan (L+775) to Cast & Crew Entertainment Services. New credit investments include a direct loan to Freedom Truck Finance, as a $5.4 million last-out senior debt (P+975), and industrial supplier Winzer, as $8.1 million, 11% subordinated debt.
Capital Southwest’s credit portfolio will eventually be middle-market loans roughly balanced between lower-middle-market companies generating EBITDA of $3-15 million, and upper-middle market companies generating EBITDA of more than $50 million.
The company’s largest legacy equity investment is Media Recovery, which is the holding company of ShockWatch. The Dallas-based company manufactures indicators and recording devices to measure impact, tilt and temperature during transit. The fair value of the equity investment was roughly $30 million as of June 30.
Setting up the Main Street joint venture early in the transformation process has been positive. Moreover, Capital Southwest has $105 million of cash to investment after the $68 million committed to the Main Street joint venture.
“We are focused on strong credits. We are not in a hurry to put cash to work, but rather thoughtfully constructing a portfolio which produces a consistent market dividend for our shareholders,” said Sarner, CFO of the new company. –Abby Latour