NOTE: The below originally appeared as the editorial in our July 10 One Minute Week newsletter. To find out more, and sign up for free, please click here.
“I have not been this excited in a long time.” After 33 years in financial services – and 22 years dealing with banking regulations – Michael Amalfitano is relishing life at a start-up.
Amalfitano this week joined Stonebriar Commercial Finance, a privately held commercial finance company.
Stonebriar itself only launched in April this year. It is new but, as they say in Texas, it is not the management team’s first rodeo. Dave Fate, Stonebriar’s CEO and president, was CEO at AIG Commercial Equipment Finance. Paul Bossidy, the firm’s chairman, was president and CEO of GE Capital Solutions Group. Steve White, the head of capital markets, held the same role at GE Commercial Finance. And the firm has picked other highly regarded asset financiers for its other management roles.
Amalfitano fits into this talented group well. He has been in business aircraft finance for 33 years. First at GE Capital, then Fleet Capital Leasing and finally Bank of America when it acquired Fleet in 2004. He retired from Bank of America earlier this year after leading its global aircraft finance business for 22 years.
Stonebriar is backed by Security Benefit Corporation an insurance and pensions company. Security Benefit has more than $28 billion in total assets under management. It has committed some of this cash to Stonebriar to build a commercial loans and leases portfolio.
Amalfitano says there is a definite aircraft finance gap. “We are not looking to compete in the bank space. We believe there is an underserved market that wants aircraft finance. There was an exodus of financial institutions in 2008 and they have not all come back. We see a definite space for small and middle sized businesses, as well as some of the large corporates, that need an aircraft for their business and cannot find financing from banks. We specialize in transactions for businesses in a wide variety of industries throughout the entire credit spectrum located in the US, Canada, and select other foreign jurisdictions and are looking to fill that gap.”
With bank regulations getting tougher, and banks more focused on existing client relationships, he believes now is the right time for non-bank lenders. The first aircraft deals will probably be for US customers but Stonebriar is looking to be global. It is also looking to acquire aircraft transactions from other financiers.
There is another thing that Amalfitano is really enjoying about his new role: the commute. Stonebriar’s headquarters is five minutes from his house. He adds: “In this fast paced, high energy, global world, life moves too fast to be stuck in traffic.”