Madison Dearborn hires Credit Suisse to help raise $12B

Madison Dearborn Partners has enlisted Credit Suisse’s private placement group to help raise its sixth fund, according to a source with knowledge of the firm.

It is believed to be the first time the Chicago-based LBO firm has used a placement agent, but isn’t surprising in light of the firm’s lofty target. At $12 billion, Madison Dearborn Capital Partners VI would be almost double the size of the firm’s previous vehicle, the $6.5 billion fund V that closed in 2006. Such a fund would put the firm in the same league as powerhouses Bain Capital, which is currently raising a $10 billion fund and a $5 billion co-investment vehicle, and Providence Equity Partners, which closed on a $12 billion fund this year.

Executives at Credit Suisse and Madison Dearborn could not be reached for comment.

For Madison Dearborn, It’s a quick return to market for a firm that historically has taken its time deploying capital. Prior to fund V, which closed in 2006, Madison Dearborn’s last fund was in 2000, when it closed on $4 billion for fund IV. The firm raised $2.2 billion for fund III in 1999, but the vintage before that was in 1996, when the firm closed on $925 million.

Madison Dearborn has ramped up its acquisition pace during the last year, doing more deals and spending much more on them. In May, Madison Dearborn consummated the largest deal in its history when it acquired CDW Corp., a computer vendor, in a take-private transaction valued at about $7.3 billion. A month later, it announced the $5.7 billion acquisition of Nuveen Investments, a money management firm.

Last month, Madison Dearborn also closed on a $335 million LBO of baseball card purveyor Topps Inc. The shop was joined on the deal by the Tornante Group, a buyout firm started by Michael Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Co.

That deal for a time appeared on the brink of failure after members of the Topps board complained the offering price was too low. The source of the dispute was a higher bid proposed and ultimately withdrawn by Upper Deck, a rival card company and strategic bidder. Eventually, more than half of the shareholders of Topps approved the Madison Dearborn and Tornante bid, which paid stockholders $9.75 per share. —Joshua Payne