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Isle investment firm forms national partnership


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POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hawaii's businesses soon could have access to millions of dollars in capital despite the credit crunch thanks to a newly formed partnership between local investment firm Sennet Capital and Hunter Wise Financial Group, an international investment banking firm.

The partnership creates a pipeline of available investment capital and loans ranging from $5 million to $200 million for Hawaii businesses seeking to make acquisitions or find new debt and equity capital sources.

Sennet Capital was founded in 2006 by a group of local businessmen led by ex-Duty Free executive Kenton Eldridge and ex-City Bank president Richard Lim to help Hawaii business owners find a local buyer when they were ready to retire and sell.

Sennet was behind the merger of advertising agency Starr Siegle and public relations company McNeil Wilson Communications to form Hawaii's largest marketing company, Anthology Marketing Group. The company also arranged the sale of Century Computers to a subsidiary of Island Insurance as well as financing for installation of Hoku Solar's photovoltaic systems at several isle airports.

Adding Hunter Wise will help expand Sennet's reach, said Larry Gilbert, managing director and chief executive of Sennet.

"Hunter Wise is one of the most well-respected mid-market investment banking firms in the country," Gilbert said "With eleven offices in the US as well as affiliates in China, Canada and the U.K., they're big enough to get plenty of attention from private equity investors and institutional lenders."

Founded in 1999, Hunter Wise works exclusively with middle-market companies to provide financial advice and traditional investment banking services. Hunter Wise also arranges capital for mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, buyouts and strategic financing events.

Companies who are seeking hard-to-fund loans or outside investment should contact Gilbert at 475-1600 to discuss their needs.

"We are looking for strong, profitable businesses that have an established market and customers and products," Gilbert said.

Restaurants and construction firms will be difficult to finance in the current environment, he said. However, most other industries are strong enough to get investor money, Gilbert said.

"Our money will be more expensive than they would get at the banks, but we may be able to get them money when the banks cannot," he said.