Fortress-Owned Lender's Planned REIT In Trouble

Sep 27 2011 | 12:43pm ET

Fortress Investment Group's subprime lender, facing billions in maturing bonds, isn't winning any votes of confidence in the bond market.

Investors are selling off Springleaf Finance Corp.'s long-term debt, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's bond-price reporting system shows. And that may undermine its plans to save itself.

Evansville, Ind.-based Springleaf, which Fortress bought a majority stake in last year, had mulled setting up a real-estate investment trust to buy some of its assets. That would help the company pay off the $756 million in its debt that matures this year and the $2.04 billion that matures next year, Bloomberg News reports.

Springleaf filed to launch a REIT in May, but has since shelved those plans.

If that avenue is foreclosed by Springleaf's plummeting bond prices, the company may have to securitize some loans to pay off its maturing debt.

Rating agencies aren't helping, with Fitch Ratings cutting its unsecured debt rating earlier this month.

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