Venture debt works for asset managers after all

Blackstone last August was looking to put $2 billion toward lending to startups and tech companies, according to The Information. But venture debt lenders remain skeptical that the asset class’s small checks are worth it for asset managers and their large LPs. Recently, a few lenders told me they didn’t think we’d ever see the large credit shops add a venture debt strategy.

Now, BlackRock is saying, “Hold my beer!”

Last week the absolutely sprawling asset manager BlackRock, with its $106 billion market cap, announced that it was going to acquire Kreos Capital, a London-based venture debt lender. Kreos lends to startups across Europe and Israel and has originated €5.2 billion (around $5.68 billion) worth of loans across more than 750 transactions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and BlackRock said that the Kreos team would be absorbed into its existing credit group.

BlackRock declined to comment for this story beyond the release, and Kreos could not be reached for comment.

As someone who used to cover corporate debt, this news shocked me. If any of the credit asset managers were to move into venture debt, BlackRock wouldn’t have been my first choice, my second or even in my top 10, really. The firm is just so large and spread across so many asset classes already, I thought it would likely be a pure-play credit shop first.

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