Alex Navab likely to go deal-by-deal as he mulls raising a fund

  • Firm may invest in individual deals as opportunities arise
  • Navab assembled roster of high-profile deal-makers
  • Not clear if/when formal fundraising will begin

Ex-KKR senior executive Alex Navab’s new firm may function on a deal-by-deal basis in the absence of a formal private equity fund, which could come to market in the coming months, sources told Buyouts.

Navab announced his new firm, called Navab Capital Partners, on April 18. He will target investments in healthcare, technology, media, fintech and consumer.

Goldman Sachs is helping with the development of the firm, lending industry relationships, resources and expertise, including introductions to potential capital sources as well as operations support, sources said.

The announcement did not mention a fund, but Buyouts previously reported that Navab could target $3 billion to $4 billion for his debut fund. Sources said the target would likely be $3 billion, though it’s not clear when the fund would hit the market or if it would have a hard cap.

Without a fund, Navab Capital is out looking for deals and if it finds one, it will source capital from investors to fund it, sources said.

“If we find opportunities, we’ll then try to raise capital for those opportunities,” Navab said in an interview. “There’s a lot of capital available if you find the right deal and have the right team to identify it.”

Navab believes his firm will start investing at just the right time, as the market is on the cusp of a downturn. While valuations are high now, he expects things will cool off over the next few years.

“It’s time to be very selective, to be cautious,” he said.

Navab, former head of the Americas private equity business at KKR, left last year after the firm’s co-founders, George Roberts and Henry Kravis, named Joe Bae and Scott Nuttall co-presidents and co-COOs, Reuters previously reported.

He has recruited several big-name private equity deal-makers to join his team, including Partners Ram Jagannath, who was previously with Carlyle Group, where he focused on healthcare; Annette Rodriguez, previously with Warburg Pincus, where she focused on consumer, retail, healthcare, industrials and business services; and Robert Berlin, who formerly worked at The Baupost Group and focused on consumer, value-add industrials, technology services and financials.

Navab spent a lot of time building up the organization even before recruiting top-name deal-makers, he said. “The infrastructure, the business operations and all the support functions in the firm were put in place before we even had our investment partners,” Navab said.

“Building a business is absolutely the right way to think about it,” he said. “We think about it as a long-term business.”

As part of that infrastructure build-out, Navab hired Mark Schroeder as partner and CFO, Bhavna Vashisht Katkar as managing director, chief administrative officer and head of human capital, and Michael Gaviser as head of capital raising and investor relations. Schroeder was previously with Deloitte, where he was a senior M&A partner, while Katkar and Gaviser came over from KKR.

Navab said philanthropy is an important aspect of Navab Capital. Along with the firm, Navab formed a foundation funded by partner capital. Beyond money, the partners will also contribute their expertise and time to the foundation, he said.

“It’s making sure we have a culture of giving back and doing good things while we come to work every day,” Navab said.

In that vein, Navab brought on Georgia Levenson Keohane as managing director to lead environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and to work as president of the philanthropic foundation.

ESG will be a part of each investment done by Navab Capital, though the firm does not consider itself an impact investor, Navab said. “Long-term investing should incorporate ESG anyway,” he said. “The industry is evolving toward that. It’s going to be a key part of what we do, our investment decision making, due diligence, monitoring of portfolio companies, everything we do.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Bhavna Vashisht Katkar as a partner. She is a managing director at Navab Capital. 

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