Brightstar closes on $1.1bn for second flagship fund, goes on hiring spree

Brightstar recently recruited 10 new employees, including two managing directors and a principal, increasing the team’s size to more than 40.

Brightstar Capital Partners is starting 2021 with a bang, exceeding the $1 billion target set for a second buyout offering and adding fresh talent to the firm’s senior bench.

The New York private equity manager closed on nearly $1.1 billion for Brightstar Capital Partners Fund II, a person with knowledge of the matter told Buyouts. It is on course to wrap up the flagship fund in the spring at a hard cap of $1.25 billion, the person said.

Brightstar is part of a crop of PE firms with first- or second-time offerings that have persevered with fundraising despite the significant challenges imposed by the health crisis. A variable working in Brightstar’s favor is the base of limited partners it assembled for Fund I, which closed in 2018 at $710 million.

Emerging managers led by veteran general partners seem to have been the most successful overcoming pandemic-related barriers, Buyouts reported last year. This takes in Brightstar, which was founded in 2015 by managing partner and CEO Andrew Weinberg, an ex-Lindsay Goldberg partner. Prior to joining Lindsay Goldberg in 2003, he worked in Goldman Sachs’ principal investment area.

Along with raising capital, Brightstar has been active on the hiring front. It recently recruited 10 new employees, increasing the team’s size to more than 40.

Several of the hires were at the senior level. They include Michael Drexler, brought on this month as chief strategy officer and managing director after working for a period as a Brightstar senior strategic advisor. He was formerly global head of strategy and business transformation at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Another managing director was hired in mid-2020. Michael Singer joined Brightstar from the unaffiliated Brightstar Corp, where he was chief strategy officer. As it happens, Brightstar the company was Fund II’s inaugural platform investment. Acquired in October from SoftBank, the device lifecycle solutions provider had a likely value of more than $1 billion, according to a Reuters report.

In addition, Brightstar this month signed up Jesse Rosenfeld as a principal. He came from Riva Ridge Capital Management, where he worked as director of business development.

Brightstar personnel are today operating from a broader array of US offices. In the past 12 months, the firm opened new offices in Palm Beach, Nashville and Orange County, complementing existing locations in New York, St. Louis and Denver.

Brightstar’s strategy is to make control-stake investments in mostly closely held mid-market businesses owned by entrepreneurs, families or founders. Target opportunities generally have revenue of $50 million to $1 billion. The firm looks to invest $50 million to $250 million per company over the life of an investment, tapping operational capabilities to drive organic and inorganic growth.

Deal flow is sourced in a range of established North American industries using Brightstar’s network of relationships. Preferred industry characteristics include resilient end-market demand, consolidation opportunities and high barriers to entry.

Fund II is already 25 percent committed, the source said. Its second platform investment, announced in December, was Amerit Fleet Solutions, an outsourced fleet maintenance provider. The acquisition’s close increased Brightstar’s total transactions since inception to 21.

Fund II had as of October secured commitments from 173 LPs, among them the University of Washington, Buyouts previously reported. Stifel’s Eaton Partners is the offering’s placement agent.

Brightstar declined to provide a comment on this story.