PE fund briefs, week of Sept. 21, 2009

Alpine secures more than $45M for fourth fund

San Francisco-based lower mid-market shop Alpine Investors has closed on $45.2 million worth of commitments for its fourth fund, according to a recent regulatory filing.

Alpine Investors IV has a target of $175 million, a healthy step-up from the firm’s vintage 2006 fund, which closed with a total of $125 million in pledges.

The firm invests in or acquires small to mid-sized U.S.-based companies with annual EBITDA of more than $2 million. Alpine Investors also considers minority investments for growth. Transaction structures have included majority and minority investments in the form of asset purchases, stock purchases and recapitalizations.

The firm was founded in 2001 by Graham Weaver, a former vice president of Oak Hill Capital.

Although Alpine Investors prefers to invest in portfolio companies with continuing management, it also has an executive-in-residence program in which the firm makes investments in companies with owners and managers seeking to transition out of the business. Alpine Investors has a particular interest in several sectors, including alarm monitoring, ATM operators, consumer products, direct marketing, niche software, specialty retailers and wealth management.

Past backers include the Rockefeller Foundation. —Nancy Gordon

Virginia shop still raising debut fund

Relativity Capital has raised at least $168.5 million for its premier fund, according to a regulatory filing, putting the Arlington, Va.-based shop just past the halfway mark in its pursuit of $300 million.

Investors in the fund include the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System, Michigan 21st Century Investment Fund and the Philadelphia Pension Fund.

It has now taken the buyout shop, whose lead partners hail from The Carlyle Group and Cerberus Capital Management, nearly two years to raise the fund, having kicked off the effort in October 2007, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.

Firm executives had expected to close the fund by the end of 2008. Relativity Capital is one of many buyout shops, both large and small, that have struggled to raise funds amid the financial crisis.

The firm has so far made three investments. In March 2008 it inked two deals, buying Berkshire Manufactured Products, a Newburyport, Mass.-based manufacturer of aircraft components, and Nivisys Industries, a Tempe, Ariz.–based maker of night-vision equipment. In June 2009 it agreed to buy MHF Logistical Solutions Inc., a Cranberry, Pa.-based company that helps transport radioactive waste. The firm didn’t reveal terms for any of the deals.

Leslie Armitage, a senior managing director who at 30 was made a partner at Carlyle Group, and Joyce Johnson-Miller, also a senior managing director and former managing director at Cerberus Capital, founded Relativity Capital in December 2005.

Armitage and Johnson-Miller did not return requests for comment. —Bernard Vaughan

DDJ Capital seeks $400M for distressed fund

DDJ Capital Management is seeking $400 million to invest in the distressed debt of publicly traded and privately held companies.

The Waltham, Mass.-based firm charges a management fee of 1.5 percent. Backers include the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System.

David Breazzano and Judy Mencher co-founded the firm in 1996 following careers together at Fidelity Investments. —Nancy Gordon

Oak Hill raises $1.1B debt fund

Oak Hill Advisors has closed a new distressed debt fund with $1.125 billion in capital commitments. The fund began making investments last October.