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Soros Said to Seek Sale of Unit That Lends to American Apparel

Billionaire George Soros
Billionaire George Soros. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Billionaire George Soros is seeking a buyer for his asset-based lending company, whose borrowers include American Apparel Inc., said two people with knowledge of the matter.

Soros Fund Management LLC hired Deutsche Bank AG to solicit bids for Crystal Financial LLC, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. The Boston-based lender may fetch $200 million, and is being pitched to private-equity firms, business-development companies, and banks and commercial lenders, the people said.

Started by a Soros investment fund in 2010, Crystal focuses on high-interest loans to troubled companies. Its $80 million March senior secured credit facility to American Apparel, the clothing retailer known for ads featuring scantily clad women, bears interest at 9 percentage points more than the 90-day London interbank offered rate.

Crystal’s other borrowers have included Orange County Register publisher Freedom Communications Inc., and the Piggly Wiggly Holdings LLC supermarket chain. Crystal has about $400 million of assets, the people with knowledge of the matter said.

Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, declined to comment, as did Duncan King, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank.

Some of Crystal’s executives, including Chief Executive Officer Ward Mooney, have worked together since 1993, when they founded a finance company later sold to BankBoston Corp. In 2005, Mooney helped found Crystal Capital Fund, whose financial backer was SAC Capital Advisors LP, billionaire Steven Cohen’s hedge-fund firm, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Mooney and his team changed the name and focus of their firm when Soros made the 2010 investment.

The Soros fund that invested in Crystal focuses on startups and private-equity investments. Its other deals include buying a stake in California-based OneWest Bank FSB in 2009.

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