John G. Martin is the president and chief executive officer for GE Antares, a unit of GE Capital that provides acquisition financing to the private equity sponsor community. Among other responsibilities, this role entails oversight of a $10 billion portfolio of acquisition loans and investments. In addition, Martin serves as a local site leader for GE’s primary location in Chicago and is involved in helping grow the company’s presence in the city.
In 1996, Martin was a co-founder of Antares Capital Corp., a Chicago-based provider of acquisition financing. He became chief operating officer of Antares in 2000. Prior to forming Antares, Martin was a senior executive with Heller Financial, a Chicago-based commercial finance company. He began his career with Continental Illinois National Bank.
Q. YOU CO-FOUNDED ANTARES CAPITAL CORP. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY YOU STARTED THE FIRM AND WHAT NEED YOU FILLED IN THE MARKETPLACE AT THAT TIME?
At the time when my partners and I started Antares in 1996, a big part of the thesis was that there was an opportunity to create an institution that was solely focused on the financing needs of private equity sponsors. At that time, banks and a small handful of commercial finance organizations were the primary providers of acquisition financing. Through a number of economic cycles, banks in particular were known to enter and exit the market regularly. Our view was that a consistent, reliable source of debt capital supporting this growing area of the economy was needed in the market.
Q. HOW DOES GE ANTARES CAPITAL SET ITSELF APART FROM OTHER LENDERS?
There are a number of ways we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. As one of the first dedicated businesses focused on serving the private equity space, we have long-lasting and deep relationships with a significant number of the most active firms in the United States. Additionally, we have the ability to bring the breadth of knowledge across the industrial businesses within GE to customers so they can grow their businesses. Through our Access GE program, we have dedicated professionals from numerous GE businesses who visit our portfolio companies and sponsor customers to share best practices learned from many years of experience in running and operating businesses.