Questor Co-Head To Depart, Firm To Disband

Turnaround shop Questor Management Co. is winding down its business and plans to sell off a portfolio of about seven companies, including four in the automotive sector, Buyouts has learned.

The move appears related to the decision by Co-Managing Principal John Janitz to step down from his post in the first quarter. Janitz plans to help with the sale of at least some portfolio companies prior to leaving. A source familiar with the matter says that it will likely be two years before all of the portfolio companies are sold.

Questor Co-Founder and Co-Managing Principal Jay Alix, a famous name in crisis management, has tapped turnaround specialist and long-time friend Larry Ramaekers to help liquidate the portfolio and ultimately shut down the firm after Janitz’s departure. Ramaekers formerly worked at the turnaround advisory shop Jay Alix founded, Jay Alix & Associates, now known as AlixPartners. Janitz did not return a call placed to his office.

Questor raised its second fund, the $860 million Questor Partners Fund II, in 1999. The partnership has generated a 10.4% net internal rate of return as of June 30, 2006, according to the Web site of backer California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The remaining professionals listed on Questor’s Web site include Vice Chairman Robert Shields; Managing Directors Dean Anderson, Robert Denious, Albert Koch, Wallace Rueckel and Dominick Schiano; Director Kevin Prokop; Vice Presidents Mark Carroll and Dennis Kirby; as well as an associate and three analysts.

Southfield, Mich.-based Questor names seven remaining portfolio companies on its Web site. These are tank-trailer and trailer parts maker Polar Corp.; prepared foods supplier Chef Solutions; coal miner PinnOak; aluminum engine parts maker Teksid Aluminum; vehicle parts makers ASC Inc. and AZ Automotive Corp.; and marketing services company Aegis Communications.

It is unclear why Janitz is leaving, though a person close to the matter says it is to pursue other investment opportunities. Janitz’s resume includes stints as COO of Textron Inc. and president of Wickes Manufacturing Co. Janitz began his career at Ford Motor Co. According to Questor’s Web site, he serves on the boards of Questor portfolio companies ASC, AZ Automotive and Teksid Aluminum.

Janitz’s parting is the second major defection in the last few months. This fall, head of fund-raising Jim Griffin left the firm. At the time, a spokesman at Questor told Buyouts that the firm would proceed with capital formation after harvesting the remainder of the second fund. The firm has now cancelled any fundraising plans.

In other Questor news from the last few years, Hellman & Friedman bought a controlling stake in Jay Alix’s restructuring firm AlixPartners this past summer. In 2005, former Questor Principal Mike Madden led a small team away from the firm to form buyout shop BlackEagle Partners.—M.C.