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Ascend Partners, led by ex-Warburg healthcare head, unveils $300m fund

Ascend was founded in 2019 by In Seon Hwang, formerly global head of healthcare at Warburg Pincus, and Richard Park, ex-CEO of Warburg portfolio company CityMD.

Emerging manager Ascend Partners is braving rocky fundraising waters with the launch of its inaugural healthcare growth-capital offering.

The New York private equity firm this month filed Form D fundraising documents for Ascend Capital Partners Fund I and sidecar vehicles, which together are targeting $300 million. No commitments were secured as of the date of the filing. The placement agent is Credit Suisse.

Ascend was founded late last year by CEO and managing partner In Seon Hwang and managing partner Richard Park.

Hwang was previously managing director and global head of the healthcare group at Warburg Pincus. Working with the firm for nearly 16 years, he invested more than $4 billion in more than 30 companies and sat on roughly 20 boards, according to Ascend’s website.

Prior to joining Warburg in 2004, Hwang was with GSC Partners and Goldman Sachs.

Hwang’s Warburg deals include CityMD, a New York network of urgent-care clinics, acquired in 2017 for $600 million. Last year, CityMD merged with Summit Medical Group, with Warburg assuming a majority stake and Consonance Capital Partners investing alongside.

CityMD-Summit marked the first combination of an urgent-care provider with a large-scale multispecialty medical practice, Buyouts’ sister title PE Hub reported in June 2019. The new business was then said to approach $200 million in pro forma EBITDA.

Warburg partnered in both deals with Park, who co-founded CityMD in 2010 and led it for almost nine years. Before then, he was an attending physician in Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s emergency department.

Hwang and Park created Ascend to invest in growth-oriented healthcare companies and entrepreneurs. The focus, according to the firm’s site, is opportunities that can improve healthcare access, affordability and quality for vulnerable and underserved populations and generate top-tier returns.

Ascend appears to have a connection with Rendr Care, a New York multispecialty physician group. Park is Rendr Care’s CEO, while two other Ascend team members, David Shih and Steven Kang, are executives. Shih and Kang are also CityMD co-founders.

PE firms with first-time offerings are encountering more fundraising challenges due to the covid-19 pandemic. A few, however, appear to be faring well. They include firms led by general partners spun out of large, brand-name managers, Buyouts reported earlier this year.

Other members of Ascend’s team include Joshua Zenilman, who joined from Cain Brothers; James Cassidy, formerly with Jefferies’ healthcare investment banking group; and Bonnie Lance, who, like Hwang, worked for several years at Warburg.

Ascend did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Action item: Learn more about Ascend Partners here.