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There are few businesses as loathsome as direct marketing, with its penchant for disturbing mealtimes and stuffing reams of unwanted junk into mailboxes. But unpopularity does not necessarily equal unprofitability, which is why a new private equity firm has launched with an exclusive focus on the direct marketing space.

The firm is named Entrepreneur Partners, and is run by Salem Shuchman and Bruce Newman. Shuchman is a former senior partner with Apax Partners, who left last spring after having worked on such deals as Yell Group and NEP Broadcasting. Newman most recently served as an operating partner with Graham Partners, and previously served as president of the Franklin Mint and Paramount Citrus via his management of the Resnick family investment office.

Shuchman said that he left Apax because he was itching to launch his own firm, and because he felt that direct marketing had been neglected from a lower middle-market perspective. “I view direct marketing as an industry, not a channel,” Shuchman explained from Entrepreneur Partners’ Philadelphia headquarters. “I define it as things like catalogs and specialty B2B publishers… any place where there is a direct connection between companies and their customers, with a lot of qualitative data around that relationship.”

Entrepreneur Partners expects to begin raising its inaugural fund sometime in 2007, and has an initial $15 million with which to establish a track record. Typical investments will consist of between $3 million and $40 million of equity in companies with EBITDA of $3 million or more. It currently is evaluating two opportunities, including one control buyout of a $5 million EBITDA company and a larger transaction in which Entrepreneur Partners is working with a major sponsor.

In addition to Shuchman and Newman, the firm currently features associate Barry Smith (formerly with Ernst & Young) and director of investor relations Christine Wojdyla (formerly with PEW Charitable Trust). The firm’s network of operating partners includes: Robert Evanson, former CEO of McGraw Hill Education and a former senior advisor to Apax; Dick Fisk, former president of direct marketing with Brady Corp.; Gil Kemp, CEO and co-founder of Home Decorators Collection; Greg Larson, CEO of The Wisconsin Cheeseman; Tom Ligouri, CEO of National Pen; and Steve Wexler, former CEO of Medical Arts Press.