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CHICAGO-Heller Financial, Inc.’s real estate finance group has paid $185 million for a golf course loan portfolio from Bank of America, NA, Banc of America Commercial Finance Corp. and Bank of America Canada. The portfolio will go to Heller’s Golf Lending Group, launched earlier this year.

The underlying assets are spread out over several geographic regions but consists primarily of daily fee, mid-level courses, according to Heller Financial.

“The assets of the Bank of America portfolio encompass the attributes and returns Heller is actively targeting, and thus accelerates our ability to meet the overall business goals for the group,” says Golf Lending Group director and product manager Christy Lockridge. “It further positions us to become the leading lender in the golf course industry, making it a highly strategic purchase.”

Heller’s Golf Lending gGoup funds middle-market properties in the US, Canada and Caribbean at 50% to 75% loan-to-value ratios. It focuses on stabilized or transitional daily fee, semi-private and non-equity private golf courses.

“As a number of debt and equity providers have left the market, financing golf courses has become an under-served niche,” Lockridge says. adding that “Heller recognized this as an opportunity to exhibit its strengths in providing products and services to counter cyclical and specialty markets and has been aggressively building its golf-lending program.”

Meanwhile, Heller Financial is in the midst of a $5.3-billion tender offer by Stamford, CT-based GE Capital Corp. About 83% of the voting shares have been tendered with less than a month before the Oct. 1 deadline.

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