(Bloomberg) -- The credit arm of BC Partners agreed to provide $400 million to football helmet maker Riddell, in a deal that will give shareholders including private equity firm Fenway Partners a long-awaited payout, according to a statement seen by Bloomberg News.

Over $300 million of the investment proceeds were used to return capital to shareholders while a smaller portion was used to pay off existing debt, according to a person familiar with the deal, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private.

The transaction is part of a growing trend of buyout firms tapping direct lenders to return capital to investors after struggling to offload companies they’ve held for several years. For Fenway, it’s a way to get cash out of an old asset — it bought Riddell in 2003 — that’s shown limited appeal for would-be buyers in part because of its legal battles over concussions suffered by football players wearing its helmets.

A representative for Riddell declined to comment while Fenway didn’t respond to requests for comment. BC Partners declined to comment on the deal’s structure beyond its statement.

The investment is structured as a senior facility, consisting of a $250 million term loan and a $25 million delayed draw term loan, as well as $125 million of convertible preferred equity, one of the people said.

Direct lender BC Partners won the financing as it was able to provide both debt and preferred equity, according to Ted Goldthorpe, head of credit at the firm.

“Fenway and Riddell wanted a partner, not just another capital provider,” Goldthorpe said in an interview. “This was not just a normal direct loan, where others were pitching one thing or the other, we were able to provide both the first lien and the convertible preferred.”

Des Plaines, Illinois-based Riddell, which supplies helmets to the National Football League and holds the license for collectible versions for fans, had previously kicked off a sale process for the business, aiming to unload it for about $800 million. It paused this effort earlier this year when bids came in lower than expected, and instead opted for an investment that leaves Fenway as majority holder, the person said.

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