Fremont Opens Boston Office –

In a move to broaden its investment reach, Fremont Partners is setting up shop in Boston, giving this West Coast firm a presence in the East.

“This doesn’t represent any change in strategy, really,” Fremont Managing Partner Mark Williamson said. “It’s just about us gaining a broader footprint and enhancing our deal flow, while at the same time helping us stay closer to some of the banks here.”

Williamson, who has lived in Boston in the past, will head the new office, which will likely house a total of four investment professionals. Outside of Williamson, the firm will look to fill the spots, which top off at the principal level, with new hires.

In choosing Boston over other East Coast cities, Williamson said, “Our personality is probably a little more consistent with other Boston firms. We’re very focused on being an operations-focused shop…Plus, there was some personal preference factored into the decision, and I’ve lived here before, so in that sense it seemed like a natural fit.”

The realignment for Fremont is perhaps more interesting when considering that the coast-to-coast trend, at least in recent years, has more often been from east to west, rather than vice versa. (Boston-based Bain Capital bucked that trend when it shuttered its West Coast operations, but a Bain spokesman said that was based solely on personal decisions rather than any strategic impetus). But Fremont stressed that the addition of a Boston office will not result in any less focus on West Coast opportunities. “From a buyout perspective, there is still very good deal flow in the West. We see that continuing as well, but the Boston office should supplement that,” Williamson stated.

Fremont’s last two acquisitions reflect this, as each target, nutrition bar maker Nellson Neutraceutical and Tyson Foods’ former frozen food unit Specialty Brands, are headquartered in Los Angeles.

Fremont is currently investing out of its $920 million Fremont Partners III fund, which was raised in 2002. The firm also made headlines recently for the IPO of its Kinetic Concepts portfolio company (see story page 24).