Signature Group Holdings, a special situation lender and investor in the former subprime lender Fremont General Corp. elected a new board of directors for the company and installed a new executive team. Before bankruptcy, Fremont was a $7bn financial institution, and it subsidiary, Fremont Investment & Loan was one of the top-five originators of subprime mortgage loans. Facing regulatory pressure after the subprime market collapsed, Fremont filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2008 to implement a restructuring program. After emerging from Chapter 11, Signature will take on a business model that focuses on credit-oriented special situation lending and investments in middle-market companies across the US. It set out to organize an estimated $769m of federal net operating loss carry-forwards that should be available to offset future taxable income. Signature named Craig Noell as president and CEO. John Nickoll, the founder of Foothill Capital Corp., formerly the country’s largest independent commercial finance company before it merged with Wells Fargo, was named chairman of the board for Signature. Robert Peiser, who has served as CEO of several companies such as Omniflight Helicopters and Imperial Sugar Co., was named vice chairman. “Middle market lending remains one of the biggest causalities of the economic downturn, with many providers exiting the market and conventional lenders pulling back significantly,” Nickoll said.  “There is a major opportunity for Signature to make an impact in offering vital credit and investment capital for mid-market companies, for operating purposes, mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, and a host of special situations.” Write to Jon Prior.

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