Former Co-Managing Partner Transitioning Out Of Kohlberg & Co.

Former Kohlberg & Co. Co-Managing Partner Chris Lacovara is transitioning out of the firm as it seeks to raise $1.5 billion for its next fund.

The mid-market buyout fund, started by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. co-founder Jerome Kohlberg in 1987, has so far raised $520 million for Kohlberg Investors VII LP and will likely start investing it in the first quarter of 2012, a senior member of the Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based firm, told Buyouts.

Meanwhile, Lacovara, who was promoted to co-managing partner with Samuel Frieder in 2007, has been reducing his involvement with the day-to-day activities at the firm. Last year he transitioned out of his role as co-managing partner, leaving Frieder as sole managing partner while the firm promoted Partner Gordon Woodward to a new CIO role. Come Fund VII, Lacovara will no longer be a partner, though he will remain a member of the investment committee, according to the source.

Lacovara was unavailable for comment. But the source said he is enrolled in Columbia Law School as he seeks a new career in legal advocacy for community economic development, a long-held ambition that Lacovara, who is in his 40s, wanted to pursue while still relatively young.

“Everyone at the firm is fully supportive of him,” the source said.

While the firm never publicly discussed the personnel changes, it did keep its limited partners in the loop, and one limited partner agreed that he’d been well informed.

“Chris has been phasing out for a while,” this LP said in an e-mail, adding that Lacovara was “just moving to next phase of life.”

In April, the Columbia Business Law Review announced that Lacovara was its editor-in-chief. And a March 9, 2010, Columbia Law School press release regarding a fundraiser for its community and student-based programs stated, “A cocktail party for 20 overlooking Central Park donated by first-year student Chris Lacovara, sold for $1,900 after intense bidding.”

Kohlberg & Co. buys mid-market companies valued from $100 million to $750 million and has raised $3.7 billion of committed capital since its inception. In 1994, Jerome Kohlberg passed the reins of the firm to his son James Kohlberg, who had helped him found the firm and is now chairman. Today the firm has about 17 investment professionals and several operating partners.