Encina Launches Lender Finance Platform, Graham and Thomas to Lead

Encina Capital Partners and an affiliate of certain funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management launched Encina Lender Finance (ELF), a new independent lender finance platform targeting commercial and consumer specialty finance companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Headquartered in Atlanta, ELF offers revolving lines of credit and term loans ranging in size from $10 million to $40 million to specialty finance companies (sponsored and non-sponsored) across a range of asset classes, including, but not limited to, asset-based lending, factoring, equipment leasing, floorplan financing, commercial real estate bridge lending, tax lien/deed financing, venture debt lending, SMB lending and merchant cash advance, middle market private credit, charged-off debt buyers, rent-to-own consumer leasing, unsecured consumer lending, and specialized student lending. ELF’s customers will use financing proceeds primarily to fund the origination of new finance contracts and to refinance existing debt, and ELF’s loans will be secured by portfolios of notes, loans and/or leases.

ELF will be led by Luke Graham (CEO) and John Thomas (president and chief risk officer), who each have more than 30 years of commercial finance experience and more than 20 years of structured credit experience. Graham and Thomas have reunited after working together as senior executives within the lender finance platforms at both Wells Fargo Bank and AloStar Bank. Graham most recently served as CFO and head of capital markets at LendingPoint, a consumer installment lender. Thomas was most recently the head of lender finance at AloStar Bank.

In addition, Alex Knowland, who has more than 10 years of structured credit experience in both risk and capital markets functions, was named vice president of capital markets and client services. Prior to joining ELF, Knowland led the securitization program at a consumer lending platform and worked at a credit fund focused on consumer finance. In addition, Janet Riccard joined the firm as director of operations. She previously held operations roles at multiple asset-based lending platforms and has expertise in collateral management, loan management systems and treasury functions.

ELF also is receiving support from existing Encina personnel across multiple functions, including John Ryan (partner), Tom Davidson (partner), Robert Kennedy (CFO), Eric James (managing director, operations and compliance), Janani Sharma (managing director, underwriting), Julie Meade (managing director, underwriting), Sandy Hom (managing director, underwriting), Brian Fulton (assistant vice president, operations), Kristal White (assistant vice president, administration) and Eric White (financial analyst).

In addition, Paul Bossidy and William Brasser — two former officers from GE — are serving as senior advisors to ELF and members of the firm’s investment committee. Bossidy is the former CEO of GE Commercial Equipment Financing, which was the world’s largest equipment finance company with approximately $100 billion in assets and $1.2 billion in net income. Brasser was previously chief risk officer at GE Capital, Americas, where he served as co-head of the credit and risk function for a $90 billion portfolio in North America. Bossidy and Brasser also serve as senior advisors to Encina.

The ELF team is already underwriting potential transactions and expects to announce additional hires in the coming months.

“We feel fortunate to be partnering with Oaktree, Luke Graham and John Thomas to launch this new platform at a time when we believe that many specialty finance companies stand to benefit significantly from a more flexible, non-bank lender finance product,” Andrew Salter, CEO of Encina and chairman of ELF, said.

“We plan to differentiate our platform through a consultative and solution-oriented approach that enables our clients to achieve their objectives,” Graham and Thomas said in a joint statement. “We’re thrilled to be supported by our senior advisors, Paul Bossidy and William Brasser, each of whom brings a breadth of C-suite experience building and managing best-in-class commercial finance platforms. We are also privileged to have attracted two talented industry executives, Alex Knowland and Janet Riccard, to help us build the company.”

“We are excited to partner with Encina and the talented team at ELF to build a well-capitalized, non-bank lender finance company,” Brian Laibow, managing director at Oaktree, said.

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