Bear Growth Capital Finds A New Home

Bear Growth Capital Partners has finally found a new home, nearly eight months after being orphaned by the collapse of Bear Stearns. Well, at least its portfolio companies have.

peHUB has learned that CCMP Capital recently agreed to manage the legacy investments of Bear Growth Capital Partners, a mid-market group launched by Bear Stearns in 2003 to invest in companies valued at between $10 million and $100 million. No specific details of the transfer have been disclosed, although Bear Growth Capital senior managing director Joe Scharfenberger is now working out of CCMP’s offices and has a CCMP email. Fellow senior managing director Paul Lattanzio did not make the move, and sources say that most group members other than Scharfenberger have been laid off.

Bear Growth Capital was a downmarket counterpart to Bear Stearns Merchant Banking (BSMB), and operated under the same umbrella. One big difference, however, was that Bear Growth Capital received all of its fund commitments from its parent company. This included a $125 million fund raised in 2003 and a $250 million fund raised in 2006.

When Bear Stearns went belly-up earlier this year, BSMB spun out into an independent firm called Irving Place Capital. Bear Growth Capital, on the other hand, remained captive to new owner JPMorgan. The bank then essentially hired CCMP to manage the legacy fund, although it’s unclear if new deals can also be done from the unfunded commitments. Also unclear is what role CCMP’s existing relationship with JPMorgan played, since CCMP previously was known as JPMorgan Partners (and Chase Capital Partners, before that).

According to the legacy BSMB website, Bear Growth Capital has 14 active portfolio companies. This includes a minority stake in the massive Harrah’s buyout, although it’s unclear how that ever worked into the Bear Growth Equity investment strategy. Here is the Fund I portfolio and here is the Fund II portfolio.

Both CCMP and JPMorgan declined comment. Neither Scharfenberger nor Lattanzio returned requests to be interviewed. A spokeswoman for BSMB/Irving Place Capital would only say that the firm had no financial stake in Bear Growth Capital, and therefore no control over its fate.