In response to concerns that the recession could further damage businesses, some investors are seeking ways to help banks reduce their exposure to commercial loans.

Private-equity firms such as Midwest Mezzanine Funds in Chicago and Key Principal Partners LLC, a Cleveland company, are gearing up to help buy down the loans of middle-market customers in exchange for injecting subordinated debt. The firms expect more banks to turn to them as a way to shore up their balance sheets without losing their customers.

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