Cap Z spinoff forms financing platform

Equafin, the lead investor in the formation of Flagship Credit Corporation, formerly had ties to New York-based Capital Z.

Equifin Capital Partners, a spinoff of Capital Z Financial Services, announced it has partnered with Michael Ritter, a 24-year automobile finance veteran, to form Flagship Credit Corporation. The national indirect automobile finance company will offer auto loans to buyers with damaged credit. Equifin is the leading investor in an $81 million capital commitment to fund the company’s growth.

Flagship will be based in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and will focus initially on the region from New Jersey to North Carolina, where Ritter said he has long-standing relationships with franchised dealers. Ritter said he hopes to expand geographically from there.

Equifin was originally formed by managing partners Mani Sadeghi and Joseph Tomei, both formerly of AT&T Capital Corporation. Equifin was started as an advisory firm which then became a management partner of New York private equity firm Capital Z. During that time Sadeghi served as the partner responsible for leading investments in the credit services industry and Tomei served on the boards of a number of companies.

In a Form D filing from August 12, 2005 Equifin reported closing on $99 million of a targeted $450 million for its current fund, Equifin Capital Partners II. At that time Equifin listed its address as 54 Thompson Street in New York, the same address as Capital Z. However some time between then and now Equifin split from Capital Z and formed its own entity at 7 Times Square. A source at Capital Z confirmed that Sadeghi and Tomei are no longer with the firm.

Equity Capital Partners II is the first fund being raised by an independent Equifin, which will focus on investments in consumer and commercial finance, asset servicing, capital asset management and other related sectors of the financial services industry.

A spokesperson for Equifin declined to comment.

Ritter said he began working on the Flagship project with Sadeghi and Tomei several months ago, building off a long-standing relationship. “I first met Mani [Sadeghi] ten years ago when we both worked in the equipment finance industry,” he said. “A few months ago we came up with this idea, because we wanted to get back into this business, we felt that the sector was one area in financial services that still makes sense, that can make a reasonable profit, and that a need existed to service a nationwide dealerbase.”

Ritter said Flagship’s management will have a minority holding in the company, and that Equifin will have the controlling stake.