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Carousel Capital Steps Up With Stair Co. Investment –

Charlotte-based Carousel Capital agreed to back the management buyout of Visador Holding Corp., a building products company that manufactures stair components. The transaction closed Feb. 28.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Harris Trust and Savings Bank and American Capital Strategies were tapped to help provide the financing. Carousel Partner William Hobbs II would not comment on the size of Carousel’s investment, other than to say it fit within the firm’s typical investment range of $10 million to $30 million. American Capital disclosed in a press release that it invested $10 million in the form of senior subordinated debt with warrants, while Harris Bank provided a senior debt facility.

;We had been looking at companies in the building products space for some time, and Visador has a very strong brand name and it’s the dominant company in its market niche,” Hobbs said.

Marion, Virginia-based Visador is a holding company for Coffman Stairs and Crown Column. Coffman has been in business since 1874, and offers over 9,000 different stair parts and related products, while Crown Column, manufactures a broad offering of synthetic and wood columns, and porch and lamp posts. In growing the company, Carousel will back current management, led by CEO Lowry Hobbs (no relation to William), in building Visador organically, although William Hobbs noted that Carousel will keep its eyes open for any add-on acquisitions that make sense.

This is the first purchase from Carousel since its recapitalization of ChildrenFirst in early 2000, and is also the first acquisition from its Carousel Capital Partners II LP fund, which closed in the middle of 2001 with $156 million under commitment. Hobbs attributed the long layoff to high seller expectations. “We reviewed literally thousands of opportunities, but we could not find anything where the valuation made sense,” he said. “Now sellers’ expectations have come down and we’re excited about the opportunities in our pipeline. The next couple years should be a great time to invest.

Carousel Capital, with more than $300 million of capital under management, keeps its focus on the Southeast, and counts Simpson Performance Products, InServe and New South among its investments. The firm was co-founded by former White House Chief of Staff and ex-Forstmann Little General Partner Erskine Bowles, who today serves as a senior advisor to the firm.