BlackRock is seeking $2.5 billion for a private credit fund, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The fund has raised $1.5 billion so far, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. The fund can either directly lend to businesses or invest in the credit of companies facing distress.

BlackRock’s investment is expected to be completed in the third quarter.
BlackRock hired the former head of global markets at Credit Suisse last year to grow its credit business. Bloomberg News

BlackRock is amassing capital in a frothy fundraising market that has surpassed pre-crisis highs. Private debt funds raised a record $100 billion last year as investors search for greater yield in a low-interest-rate environment, according to a report from Preqin. The private debt market has tripled since 2007 to $638 billion as of June 2017, the research firm said.

When reached by Money Management Executive, Matt Kobussen, a spokesman at New York-based BlackRock, confirmed Bloomberg’s reporting but declined to comment further on the matter.

BlackRock has been expanding its alternatives business as it seeks to gather more fee revenue and meet demand from clients for investments that offer less correlation with stocks and bonds. The asset-management industry has been striving to find novel ways to make money as capital continues to shift from mutual funds into low-fee passive offerings.

A year ago, BlackRock hired Timothy O’Hara, the former head of global markets at Credit Suisse, to build a larger credit business. Rob Kapito, BlackRock’s president, wrote in a March 2017 memo that the “time is right to capture new opportunities,” especially in markets where banks and other traditional lenders aren’t meeting credit demand.

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These investments offered better returns than the broader fixed-income world in recent years, but the risk/reward equation leans heavier on risk.

BlackRock’s private credit fund is led by David Trucano, who also manages a long-short credit hedge fund. The Credit Alpha fund, started in late 2013, returned an annualized 5.9% through the end of last year. Trucano, who joined BlackRock in 2012, previously worked as a managing director at Centerbridge Partners, which invests in distressed credit and private equity.

Bloomberg News