Hedge funds expand role as small business lender

Guardian.co.uk – Hedge funds are known for playing many roles on Wall Street, but last-resort lender to small businesses that are turned down by banks is hardly one of them.

 Yet with the credit crunch pushing many major U.S. banks to set tougher lending standards for small and medium-sized businesses, hedge funds have stepped in.

The money isn’t cheap, with interest rates of 14 percent or more. But small businesses have few places to turn.
"A major void has been created in the marketplace by banks tightening their credit standards and trying to stabilize their balance sheets," said David Grin, co-founder of Laurus-Valens, a hedge fund with around $1.7 billion under management. "From the investment point of view, this is as good as it gets."
Laurus-Valens provides loans to public and private companies with average revenues of $30 to $50 million. The fund charges interest rates of about 10 percent to 11 percent, and takes equity stakes in the companies.

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