Great Elm Capital, a business development company, acquired a majority equity interest in Sterling Commercial Credit, an asset-based lender.

Established in 2004, Sterling provides asset-based loans to middle-market companies throughout the United States. The Sterling team has been active in the commercial finance industry for over 30 years.

GECC purchased a majority ownership position in Sterling for $7.54 million, consisting of $4.94 million in cash and $2.60 million in GECC shares issued at GECC’s net asset value. In connection with the transaction, GECC is also providing subordinated debt to Sterling. The majority of the proceeds from the transaction will be retained by Sterling to help support the growth of the business.

Founder and CEO Edwin Small will continue to lead the business and will maintain an equity interest. Michael Keller, president of Great Elm Specialty Finance, will become chairman of Sterling’s board of managers.

Sterling Commercial Credit was advised in this transaction by Hovde Group.

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of a majority interest in Sterling as we continue to build our specialty finance platform,” Peter A. Reed, CEO of GECC, said. “In combination with our portfolio companies Prestige Capital and Lenders Funding, the GECC family of specialty finance businesses has an increasingly broad array of capital solutions to offer to small and mid-sized businesses.”

“This transaction is pivotal for GECC as the Sterling platform allows us the ability to offer ABL Revolvers and onestop shop financing options for our clients,” Michael P. Keller, president of Great Elm Specialty Finance, said. “We welcome Edwin and the Sterling team to the Great Elm family and are confident that this purchase will expand our specialty finance footprint and open up a number of new opportunities for us.”

“We are excited to join GECC and believe that this transaction will allow Sterling the ability to offer additional lending products to middle market businesses, and, with GECC’s access to capital, execute on larger transactions,” Small said.