Bernhard Capital spots bolt-ons for Optimum Energy; BW Forsyth buys into retail brokerage

BW Forsyth acquires retail brokerage firm WalkerHughes.

Good morning Hubsters, Craig McGlashan here with the Tuesday Wire.

Tech is the opening theme of the day, as PE Hub’s Michael Schoeck learns about the bolt-on opportunities that Jonathan de Lauréal of Bernhard Capital Partners sees for portfolio company Optimum Energy.

We then switch to insurance, where BW Forsyth Partners has invested in a retail brokerage, before we feature investment advisory as Carlye joins GTCR as a minority investor in Captrust Financial Advisors.

Energy efficiency
First up today is a deep dive into Bernhard Capital Partners’ acquisition of Optimum Energy, a software-enabled energy efficiency and engineering services business.

Bernhard managing director Jonathan de Lauréal told PE Hub’s Michael Schoeck that the company’s software is paired with a digital twin technology of artificial intelligence partner Tignis, a Seattle-based technology start-up formed in 2017 to support industrial data processes with AI analytics.

Optimum and Tignis formed a joint partnership in mid-2023 to deploy more heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems using Tignis’s Paice monitor system to identify operational anomalies that could negatively impact energy usage and carbon emissions in commercial and industrial infrastructure using Optimum’s software suite.

De Lauréal told Michael that with the Optimum-Tignis platform at its core, the portfolio company will selectively review bolt-on acquisitions to add “[energy-as-a-service] delivery model capabilities” to the group’s core engineering competency to facilitate a more “technology-enabled energy services model.”

Deal targets include SaaS-focused engineering companies that could enhance the company’s existing AI and machine learning-enabled functions, he said. Optimum and its investor are agnostic to deal sizes, which could range from closely held private companies to carve-outs from public companies, he added.

For more on Bernhard’s plans for Optimum, check out the full piece here.

Bernhard and Optimum might be picking just the right time to look for some tech company bolt-ons. According to a report this week from Bain & Co, a backlog of long-held portfolio tech assets “is growing more quickly than the mountainous level of dry powder that is holding steady, which will create a buyer’s market when activity picks up.”

You can read more on that report over on PE Hub Europe.

A deal that caught my eye this morning was BW Forsyth Partners investing in WalkerHughes Group, a retail insurance brokerage.

“WalkerHughes brings unique technology to retail insurance, has a great culture and is poised for long-term growth,” said Drew Frailey, a partner at BW Forsyth Partners, said in a statement.

We’ve also seen an uptick in insurance deals over on PE Hub Europe ­– CVC taking a majority stake in Dale Underwriting Partners and Pollen Street and Bain Capital backing a merger between two insurers, for instance.

I’d love to get readers’ thoughts on whether there are any underlying forces driving these deals. Pop them over to me at

Investment advice
Carlyle has made a minority investment in Captrust Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor (RIA) that is already backed by GTCR.

Neither GTCR nor any of Captrust’s executive leadership teams will sell secondary shares as part of the transaction. Carlyle and GTCR will be minority investors, both individually and collectively, with co-founder and CEO Fielding Miller remaining the largest individual shareholder.

“Captrust is one of the premier brands within the RIA industry, with a deep bench of expertise and resources that support a premium and ever-expanding service model,” said Jim Burr, head of global financial services at Carlyle, in a statement.

Founded in 1997, Captrust oversaw more than $832 billion in assets as of June 30.

The company also covers wealth management, a sector that is attracting more and more interest from private equity firms. Check out Nina Lindholm’s piece on PE Hub Europe about Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board’s recent move for Seven Investment Management for more on that.

OK that’s all from me today. Chris Witkowsky will be at the helm tomorrow.