Former NewStar Financial Execs Launch New Commercial Finance Company

Clarus Capital launched as a new commercial finance company focused on delivering capital solutions to finance tangible assets for leveraged middle-market companies.

Clarus Capital will offer lease and loan products with various end-of-term options to finance the acquisition of a range of equipment types. The company will also provide financing solutions to meet customers’ needs for planned capital expenditures. Clarus Capital will serve firms across the United States in an array of industries, including manufacturing, construction, transportation, technology, healthcare and business services.

The firm is already underwriting and funding investment opportunities and has been awarded several transactions, ranging from $5 million to $30 million, which are scheduled to close in the near term.

Clarus Capital was founded by Steve O’Leary, Tim Conway and Michael Eisenstein, who will serve as CEO, chairman and CFO, respectively.

O’Leary has more than 30 years of experience leading the origination, underwriting, portfolio management, syndication and funding of equipment finance lease and loan portfolios. He was formerly head of equipment finance at NewStar Financial, which was sold to Radius Bank in 2016. Prior to that, O’Leary founded and managed Eastern Bank’s middle market leasing business and held various positions with AT&T Capital, Fleet Capital Leasing and Shawmut Bank.

Conway has more than 30 years of experience building and leading alternative credit and wholesale banking institutions. Conway founded NewStar Financial and was its CEO and chairman of the board of directors from 2004 to 2017. NewStar Financial completed an IPO in 2006 and was sold to First Eagle Investment Management in 2017. Prior to NewStar Financial, Conway was the head of corporate finance and capital markets for FleetBoston Financial, where he was a member of the management, credit policy and market risk committees. Before joining FleetBoston, Conway worked at Citibank and Aetna.

Eisenstein, who will also serve as treasurer in addition to CFO for Clarus Capital, is a charted financial analyst with more than 20 years of finance, securitization and capital markets experience. Eisenstein was formerly the corporate treasurer of NewStar Financial and a member of the firm’s executive leadership team for more than 15 years. Prior to that, Eisenstein held various positions in the corporate and investment banking group at MUFG.

In addition to O’Leary, Conway and Eisenstein, Jeff Greene will join the new company as chief credit officer and Dan Crowley will join as controller and head of administration.

Greene previously served as a senior portfolio manager at NewStar Financial, leading a team of credit investment professionals responsible for underwriting and portfolio management duties across a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of middle-market, leveraged finance and sponsor-backed credits.

Crowley previously served as corporate controller for NewStar Financial from its inception in 2004 through the IPO and eventual sale in 2017. Crowley was responsible for the build-out and oversight of the day-to-day accounting and corporate finance functions, internal controls design and implementations, management of financial audits and tax compliance as well as for providing financial insights and support for corporate decision making.

“We are excited about launching this business with a team of talented and experienced leveraged finance and equipment finance professionals backed by a sophisticated financial partner that is truly an expert in specialty finance,” O’Leary said. “With our long duration and flexible capital base, we are well-positioned to build an industry-leading, flexible and responsive platform that leverages our core strengths in direct origination, transaction structuring and disciplined risk management. Our data-driven, analytical approach will provide clients tailored financing solutions fit to their businesses. We will fill the void created by incumbent lenders who pulled back from equipment leasing, creating a supply-demand imbalance in our target markets. Additionally, we look forward to returning in the near term to the asset-backed capital markets as a programmatic issuer of equipment-backed securitizations.”

BharCap Partners, a private investment firm led by Bharath Srikrishnan that makes private equity and credit investments in the financial services industry, is backing Clarus Capital. Srikrishnan was also a co-founder and member of the executive management team of NewStar Financial until its IPO.

“I have known Tim Conway for nearly 20 years and previously worked with the team in a similar business to Clarus,” Srikrishnan said. “Quite honestly, the best part of our business is working with repeat management teams, and I am excited to work with them again. They are the right team to back to capitalize on the market opportunity in the equipment finance space. The combination of their expertise and our capital base will enable us to build a differentiated equipment leasing company. We look forward to supporting them as we build and scale Clarus Capital together.”

“Steve, Mike and I are very excited to announce the formation of Clarus Capital,” Conway said. “An experienced and cohesive team is in place, and we are well on our way to building a leading commercial finance platform. We have known the executives at BharCap for many years and we are proud to partner with them in this endeavor.”

Hovde Group served as exclusive financial advisor to Clarus Capital. K&L Gates provided legal counsel to Clarus Capital. Hunton Andrews Kurth provided legal counsel to BharCap Partners.

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