Octagon Asset Mgmt: reinventing inventory finance
The Basle II Capital Accord is being welcomed with open arms by Octagon Asset Management. It runs two alternative funds that specialize in asset-based lending, and CEO Mead Welles is confident that his firm will benefit from the higher credit costs that banks will likely charge borrowers they perceive to be particularly risky. The liquidity gap that Octagon fills between commercial banks and investment banks for borrowers – predominantly in the agriculture, food and shipping industries in emerging-market countries – is likely to widen.
Welles worked for Cargill’s emerging-markets investment and trading arm before deciding to set up Octagon in 1998. “There was and remains a tendency for traditional lenders to avoid making loans to companies located in developing countries due to the perception that it involves much more risk,” he says. “And many of the companies that needed credit fell below the radar screen of the big players in the asset-based lending market. There are also constraints on cross-border lending for most banks that limit how much exposure they can have to developing countries. Where there is less liquidity, there is less efficiency, and that is where there is opportunity.”