Avista Capital puts InvestorPlace up for sale

Avista Capital Partners, which has experienced several executive departures this year, is looking to exit InvestorPlace.

Avista has tapped Berkery Noyes to sell the investment and financial news site, four sources said. It was unclear how much Avista is seeking for InvestorPlace.

The New York-based private equity firm invested in InvestorPlace in January 2007, when the company was known as Phillips Investment Resources. The company changed its name to InvestorPlace the following September. InvestorPlace publishes a series of newsletters, such as ETF Insights and Fund Focus Weekly, as well as websites including 24/7 Trader.

Founded in 2005, Avista is made up of former executives of DLJ Merchant Banking. Thompson Dean, an Avista co-managing partner and co-CEO, is a former managing partner at DLJ MB. Dean helped co-found Avista along with Steven Webster, who is also a co-managing partner (Dean Webster is the former chairman of DLJMB Global Energy Partners). David Burgstahler, also an Avista co-founder, was a partner of DLJ Merchant Banking. He is now an Avista partner and president.

This year, three partners—including Newton Aguiar, Robert Cabes and OhSang Kwon—have left Avista, according to archived versions of the firm’s website. Aguiar, Cabes and Kwon appeared on Avista’s website as late as December but are no longer listed.

Earlier this year, Aguiar joined Warburg Pincus as a healthcare adviser. Cabes and Kwon no longer work for Avista, calls to the firm confirmed. It was unclear where they have landed.

Dean confirmed that the executives left Avista this year. Another partner, Arthur Zuckerman, departed in 2013, he said. (Zuckerman is currently a consultant with Atlas Merchant Capital, according to his LinkedIn profile.)  “All four partners were valuable contributors to the team and left by mutual agreement,” Dean told peHUB. “We wish them well on future endeavors.”

Avista hasn’t replaced any of the departing partners and their functions have all been filled internally, Dean said. The PE firm did elevate two younger partners, Brendan Scollans and Sriram Venkataraman, to its investment committee, he said.

News of the sale and executive departures come as Avista Capital is expected to fundraise soon. New York-based Avista invests in middle market companies in sectors such as healthcare, energy, consumer as well as communications and media. The PE firm makes controlling or influential minority investments of about $50 million to $300 million in equity per deal, according to its website.

Avista closed its last fund at $1.4 billion in July 2013. Avista, which had been seeking $2 billion for its third pool, began marketing in mid-2011 with a first close later that year, placement sources said.

Avista Capital Partners III LP is 70 percent committed, one of the sources said.

Fund III has committed more than $1 billion to 10 transactions, Dean said. “We have a little over $400 million to go,” he said. Avista does not plan on raising Fund IV this year, he said. The firm could begin marketing for Fund IV in mid-2015 depending on the investment pace on the remaining $400 million, Dean said.

Avista’s first fund, which closed in 2006 with $2 billion, is producing a gross IRR of 10 percent as of March 31 and is 1.5x costs, Dean said.

Avista’s second fund closed in 2010 with $1.8 billion. Avista Capital Partners II LP was producing a 30 percent gross IRR as of March 31 and is 1.9x costs, Dean said. Fund III, a recent pool, is generating a 20 percent gross IRR and is 1.2x costs, he said.

The three funds have returned more than $3 billion to investors, Dean said. “We feel our remaining team at Avista is as strong as ever,” he said.

Executives for InvestorPlace and Berkery Noyes did not return calls or messages for comment.

(CORRECTION: Webster is the former chairman of DLJMB Global Energy Partners. The original version of this story gave an incorrect name.)

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