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The Deal: Regulatory Hurdles Trip Up Specialty Finance Deals

Other pending IPOs include Banco Santander's U.S. consumer business that filed to raise $50 billion from a float in July. The Dallas-based unit is 65% owned by Madrid-based Banco Santander while funds overseen by Centerbridge Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Warburg Pincus, own 25%, and CEO Thomas Dundon owns 10%, regulatory filings show.

Ally Financial is awaiting regulatory approval for its IPO, even though it still owes around $5 billion in bailout money to the government. The company -- previously General Motors Acceptance Corp., or GMAC, provides auto and commercial finance along with insurance and direct banking.

In terms of pending deals, NewStar Financial (NEWS), which has a market value of about $863 million, is reported to be working with Credit Suisse to solicit offers for its healthcare, manufacturing and energy lending business. The lender has been slated as a prime takeover target for regional banks and is backed by private equity firms, Capital Z Partners Management and Corsair Capital.

Advisers point to the $2.3 billion acquisition of CapitalSource (CE) by PacWest Bancorp this July as one which illustrates the upside of specialty finance. While CapitalSource's main subsidiary operated as a bank, Mercer Capital's Jeff Davis described it as a "commercial finance company in a bank wrapper" that was originating higher yielding assets than PacWest's traditional bank business. Both Davis and Hanson said commercial finance deals were easier to realize than consumer finance M&A, given far heavier regulation and consumer protection issues around the latter.

Major banks have been limited to sector participation via portfolio sales or acquisitions given regulatory concern around creating "too big to fail" institutions. Bank of America Merrill Lynch sold its $7.14 billion portfolio of residential mortgage servicing to Nationstar Mortgage Holdings (NSM) in January while Citigroup (C) paid Capital One Financial (COF) $7 billion for a credit card portfolio.

--Written by Jane Searle in New York

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