Virginia Shop Still Raising Debut Fund

Firm: Relativity Capital

Fund: Relativity Fund LP

Target: $300 million

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.

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 by the end of 2008, as previously reported in Buyouts. Relativity Capital is one of many buyout shops of all sizes 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 components used in aircraft, aerospace, automotive and medical industries; and Nivisys Industries LLC, 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 and byproducts from the mining and food processing industry for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies, from Allied Capital Corp. 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. The firm looks to write checks of $5 million to $30 million for buyouts and investments in distressed companies in the aerospace, automotive, business services, consumer, defense, manufacturing and health care. Most of its targets are in North America.

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

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

The firm has 10 investment professionals and a nine-member advisory board, according to its Web site. The advisory board includes a number of people connected to government and the aerospace and defense industry, including Dr. Bahman Atefi, president at Alion Science and Technology Corp., an aerospace and defense company; Francis Raborn, a former vice president and CFO of BAE Systems Land and Armaments; and Harold Gehman, a former admiral of the U.S. Navy. Gehman sits on the board of directors for a number of companies and is also a senior fellow at the National Defense University and a member of the board of advisors for the Anser Institute, a federally funded research and development center supporting the Department of Homeland Security.