WWD sat down with West Coast factoring executives earlier this year to discuss industry trends. Brands emerged as a key one for the year. Investors looking to purchase recognizable brands end up paying top dollar these days, as much as 75 or 80 percent more than they did a decade ago, according to roundtable participants. Liquidity in the market has helped drive valuations up, they said. With brands so popular, factors said they were increasingly approached to lend against “alternative assets.” The panelists included: Ron Vanek, executive vice president and western regional manager of GMAC Commercial Finance; Harry Friedman, senior vice president of Rosenthal & Rosenthal; David Reza, senior vice president, western region, of Milberg Factors, and Kevin Sullivan, executive vice president and western region manager of Wells Fargo Century.

WWD: Are you finding yourself lending against different types of assets?

Kevin Sullivan: The intellectual property issue is connected to the whole issue of valuations. Players within the marketplace see where the valuations are headed and suddenly everyone wants to monetize that brand to the greatest extent they can. We are asked to lend against IP to a much greater extent. To do that within the marketplace, it’s certainly an area that you’re going to have to be able to consider if you want to remain competitive.

Ron Vanek: As part of the (recently more robust) mergers and acquisitions activity, we have to look at ourselves not as just factors but as somebody who can provide financing; someone who can do the lenders’ buyout financing, who can offer some effective unsecured pieces to maintain our touch on those deals so they don’t just go away to a whole different end of the financial marketplace, to the structured finance people.

Harry Friedman: It’s a question of the structures, being able to structure the deal. We’ll consider any type of collateral that makes sense.

David Reza: You almost have to (lend against alternative assets) or you may be left behind. A lender is a facilitator. If it’s a product that’s not in your suite of services, then you have to make sure that you bring to the table a partner who will help the client achieve its goals.

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