(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Asset Management LP has launched its first European private credit fund for wealthy individuals, joining the race to draw the region’s rich into a rapidly-expanding industry.

The direct-lending fund — which has already raised more than €550 million ($594 million) from investors — provides senior debt to mid-sized and large European businesses, typically in non-cyclical industries, according to a statement seen by Bloomberg News. The fund, called GSEC, has already invested in 23 companies.

“We continue to see the European private credit market as an active source of stable returns for investors,” James Reynolds, global head of direct lending at Goldman Sachs Alternatives, said in the statement.

A number of private debt heavyweights including Apollo Global Management and Ares Management Corp. are looking to draw Europe’s wealthy into the fast-growing market for alternative investments, as well as Goldman Sachs AM. Earlier this month, Blackstone Inc. opened its retail private credit fund ECRED to wealthy investors in France. The asset manager was a pioneer in bringing private credit to individual investors in Europe after having success with similar strategies in the US.

Goldman Sachs — through its merchant bank — was an early adopter of private credit, developing a mezzanine finance business in 1996 and subsequently raising $10.5 billion for a senior loan fund in 2008. Goldman Sachs’s senior direct lending strategy now supervises about $65 billion of assets, and sits within the firm’s $450 billion alternatives division. 

Other Wall Street banks have followed Goldman’s playbook in setting up direct lending operations through asset management units to regain ground they’ve lost to private credit powerhouses.

Read: Credit Suisse, JPMorgan Echo Goldman in Fighting Private Credit

Among recent big deals, Goldman Sachs AM played a significant role in supporting Permira’s buyout of German insurance broker Gossler, Gobert & Wolters. Goldman Sachs AM also led the euro tranche of the $3.3 billion private credit loan for UK insurance broker Ardonagh Group Ltd.

--With assistance from Sridhar Natarajan.

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