Star Mountain taps former Merrill Lynch leveraged-loan chief as MD

  • Stephen Paras led US, EMEA leveraged loan teams for Merrill
  • European experience could help some Star Mountain portfolio companies, says Hickey
  • Paras to hold seat on firm’s investment committee

Star Mountain Capital tapped former Merrill Lynch leveraged-loan chief Stephen Paras as a managing director and member of the firm’s investment committee.

Paras previously worked as an operating partner with Star Mountain since October and is a personal investor in the firm’s funds. Star Mountain invests in lower middle market companies, typically those with $20 million of EBITDA or less, and usually structures its investments as debt with warrants or small equity co-investments.

“What I’ve seen in my short six months is [investors] truly appreciate our knowledge, our relationships and expertise in building these businesses,” he told Buyouts, adding that the firm’s investment data and technology also factored into his decision to join full-time. “The lower middle market really allows us the opportunities to provide bespoke solutions.”

Paras’ tenure at Merrill Lynch overlapped with Star Mountain Partner Christopher Birosak and Managing Director Corey Baylor, he said.

Prior to joining Star Mountain, Paras spent almost 17 years as a leveraged-finance professional with Merrill Lynch. He headed the firm’s U.S. leveraged-loan team until early 2009, shortly after the firm was acquired by Bank of America, when he transitioned to lead the leveraged-loan effort in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Paras’s experience in Europe could benefit Star Mountain portfolio companies looking to expand their sales networks to Europe or develop relationships with European buyers, CEO Brett Hickey told Buyouts.

“We certainly as a firm really value Steve’s complementary expertise in that way,” he said. “He’s seen companies go through a lot of different challenges. And for us to get in front of challenges … that’s something we value.”

Later, Paras was a managing director at private investment bank North Sea Partners, where he led the firm’s European capital markets team. He later became a senior adviser to London-based capital markets firm STJ Advisors, according to his LinkedIn page.  

In addition to Paras and Hickey, Star Mountain’s investment committee includes Birosak, Robert Long, Harry Haskins, Ryan McGovern, Rakesh Jain and David DiPaolo.

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Photo of Stephen Paras courtesy of Star Mountain Capital.