Baird raises $300M with eye on Asia

Baird Capital Partners will bring more muscle—and an aggressive Asia strategy—to the lower middle market after closing this month on a $300 million target for its fourth buyout fund.

Baird Capital Partners IV is nearly twice as large as the firm’s vintage 2000, $175 million fund, which is fully invested. Limited partners include American Family Mutual Insurance, Hexagon Investments, The Northwestern Mutual Life Foundation and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Managing Director Paul Carbone said his firm hit the $300 million target of the fund and completed raising the vehicle in one year, which was the goal for fund IV.

The Chicago-based buyout shop has already made three investments from the new fund, including the acquisitions in February of Backyard Adventures and Leisure Time Products, formerly competitors in the wooden swing-set sector.

The firm plans to use fund IV to maintain its focus on buying domestic manufactured products and business services companies valued between $25 million and $125 million and with sales ranging from $30 million to $200 million.

Baird Capital has also struck one of the more dynamic overseas profiles among mid-market buyout shops as it aims to find suppliers and bigger markets for portfolio companies. The firm operates offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, and last month the firm extended its Asia strategy to India by forging an alliance with Tholons Inc., a Bangalore-based professional services consultancy.

“We buy lower middle companies, but they don’t always have the tools, the access, the reach, the resources to fully take advantage of all global opportunities,” Carbone says. “We bring to the table those relationships and access and expertise to support the management teams in executing their strategies. We try to be more than 10 guys sitting in an office building.”