Kelso Builds Team With Ex-Bear Stearns Pro –

Philip Berney, a senior managing director and head of high-yield capital markets at Bear, Stearns & Co., left that firm last week to join New York-based leveraged buyout firm Kelso & Co. as a partner.

Mr. Berney, who had overseen junk bond capital markets at Bear Stearns for the past three years, has longstanding ties with partners at New York-based Kelso dating back to 1986, when he was a financial analyst at the old First Boston Corp. Since then, he has helped the LBO firm finance acquisitions through issuing high-yield bonds, extending bridge loans and sometimes even taking portfolio companies public.

Over the course of the relationship, Mr. Berney has worked with the private equity firm on approximately 10 of its 60-plus investments. Those deals include helping Kelso invest in billboard advertising concern Universal Outdoor in 1996, as well as helping to effect a series of acquisitions for that portfolio company. He also originated high-yield financing for Kelso’s acquisition of Hosiery Corp. of America, a direct mail marketer, in 1994.

“We’ve worked extensively with Phil over a number of years, and he obviously has the talent,” noted Michael Goldberg, a partner at Kelso. “From a personality standpoint, we feel like he’s already been here with us for years.”

The investment firm, which raised its first equity fund in 1980, recently closed on approximately $1.5 billion for its sixth fund. In December, it also closed Magnetite Asset Investors, L.L.C., a $1 billion market-value collateralized loan obligation fund.