Circle Peak Capital Co-Founder Forms New Firm With LJH Global

While many buyout firms seek to differentiate through specialization, a new player in the middle market is doing just the opposite. LJH Global Investments, a Florida-based hedge fund, has partnered with John Poerink, formerly of Circle Peak Capital, to create a fundless buyout shop with a diverse, flexible mandate.

The New York-based firm, called LJH Linley Capital, will not limit its investment criteria by sector or geography, although it did say the sectors would include consumer products, industrial and manufacturing. LJH Global is providing the interim equity financing and the firm will look to make immediate investments ranging from $50 million to $800 million in transaction value.

Poerink left consumer-focused Circle Peak Capital, where he was one of two partners. The split was “more than extremely amicable,” he said, noting that he will fulfill obligations as both a portfolio company board member and investor in many of the firm’s deals.

Poerink founded Circle Peak Capital in 2003 with partner Adam Smith. He led the firm through transactions such as Rocket Dog Brands, a shoe company, and Luxury Optical Holdings, an eyewear retail business. Like Linley Capital, Circle Peak Capital operates under a fundless sponsor structure.

Poerink’s new direction, with Linley Capital, reflects an interest in European, Latin American, and South American investments, he said. Circle Peak Partners, like many middle market buyout firms, cannot pounce on attractive investment opportunities that fall outside of its sector and geographical mandates, for fear of strategy drift.

“(Leveraged buyouts) is a business that requires a broad approach and a broad understanding of the economic swings that take place in the US, Europe and Latin America,” Poerink said. “To myopically focus on one sector or geography would disadvantage ourselves.”

Since Poerink’s expertise and experience reflect his consumer products focus at Circle Peak Capital, he’s assembled an advisory board to aid in opportunities outside that expertise. The board boasts former executives of companies like steel manufacturer IPSCO Inc, Coca-Cola Co. and United States Postal Service.

“The idea is to bring in industry leaders from the due diligence process forward to work with management of smaller companies and develop a strategic growth plan,” he said.

Linley Capital represents an effort to formalize the somewhat sporadic buyout efforts of LJH Global. The hedge fund has dabbled in LBOs but the firm’s investors wanted more permanent exposure to the asset class. With an official recapitalization mandate, Linley Capital can create lasting banking relationships and drive buyout deal flow.

Linley Capital already has a handful of letters of interest in the mail. And thanks to the backing from LJH Global, Poerink and crew can put money to work immediately. Poerink has hired one senior associate and plans to hire two more professionals.