Jonathan Belair, a one-time OMERS Private Equity executive, set up his own PE shop with a focus on disruption in the food industry, Buyouts has learned.
Belair founded Lios Partners last year to make control and minority investments in North American mid-market companies operating across the food value chain, according to the firm’s website. It is not known when or if a debut fund will be launched.
Lios could not be reached for comment prior to publication of this story.
Belair brings substantial operating and PE experience to the new venture. Before Lios, he was a senior executive with McCain Foods, the world’s largest maker of frozen potato products. Over five years, he led global M&A, strategy and VC investing, as well as McCain’s sustainability and ESG program.
Earlier, Belair was a director of OMERS Private Equity, a role he held for more than five years. He was a member of the North American direct PE team led by Michael Graham, now OMERS’ global head of private equity.
Belair sat on the boards of several portfolio companies, including Husky Injection Molding Systems, acquired in 2011 from Onex. OMERS and Berkshire Partners sold the plastics supplier in 2018 to Platinum Equity for $3.85 billion.
Previously, Belair was a vice president in Scotiabank’s investment banking group and an associate with Roynat Capital, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Lios’ founding partners are Craig Hanna and James Rickert. Hanna was formerly the head of Clearview Advisory, an agri-food mid-market advisory firm, and a senior executive with SunOpta, a plant-based food and organic ingredients business. Rickert was a managing partner of Brookfield Asset Management and part of its infrastructure group.
Belair created Lios to help address challenges facing the food industry. In a founding letter, he said covid-19 exposed “deep long-standing vulnerabilities across the entire value chain” and “elevated the importance of sustainability and transparency.” The food system, he said, will have to find new ways to feed a growing population with fewer resources.
Lios will support “the much-needed transformation of our food system,” Belair said, by partnering with companies able to emphasize and accelerate change. It will source dealflow in sectors like food production, tech-enabled products and services and consumer packaged goods.
OMERS, an institutional pioneer of direct PE investing, has been a fertile source of emerging managers. Top executives who recently left to establish their own PE shop include Vertu Capital’s Lisa Melchior, Venn Growth Partners’ Jon McCarthy and Maverix Private Equity’s John Ruffolo.
Other members of Lios’ team include partner advisers Don Morrison and Kelly Marshall and technical adviser Han van den Hoek.