Cantwell exits Norwest Equity to launch Carlson Private Capital

  • Carlson Private Capital Partners launches May 1
  • Carlson family is sole provider of CPC’s capital
  • Cantwell spent nearly 12 years at Norwest Equity

After nearly a dozen years, Andrew Cantwell has left Norwest Equity Partners to build a new firm with the backing of a well-known family office.

Cantwell is president, CEO and managing partner of Carlson Private Capital Partners, which officially launched May 1.

The Minnetonka, Minnesota, private equity firm formed its first committed investment platform, which will focus on middle-market companies with Ebitda of $5 million to $50 million. A generalist, Carlson will typically invest from $20 million to $100 million equity per deal.

Family members involved with Carlson Inc are providing capital for the firm, Cantwell said. “We do have a dedicated fund and the capital comes exclusively from the Carlson family,” he said.

Carlson Inc is the family-owned corporation, also in Minnetonka, that sold TGI Fridays to Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners in 2014 for a reported $800 million.

Carlson is best known for its long ownership of the Radisson hotel chain, which it sold in 2016 to HNA, the Chinese conglomerate. The family still owns Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

Cantwell would not disclose the length of CPC’s pool but said the new firm has a longer timeline than the typical 10 years of PE funds.

“We have no need for liquidity but have the flexibility to stay in investments much longer,” Cantwell said. “This gives us tremendous flexibility in how we structure deals and build sustainable enterprises.”

The change was somewhat unexpected for Cantwell, who was promoted to partner at Norwest Equity less than two years ago. Mike Sweeney, chairman of Carlson’s investment committee, approached Cantwell last summer. “I told him I wasn’t interested in pursuing it,” he said.

Then, Cantwell thought about Carlson’s proposed platform, which would marry the best elements of a traditional PE fund with the elongated view of a family investment vehicle. “The flaw in the PE model is that you have to sell your winners,” Cantwell said. “The beauty with this is that we can hold on forever.”

Cantwell left Norwest Equity a month ago and signed on with Carlson. Taylor Moore, a former principal at Norwest, is also joining Carlson Private Capital. Moore is now a partner at CPC. “We’ve been working together for 12 years,” Cantwell said of Moore.

Right now, CPC is looking to add people. “We are going to hire a couple of associates out of the gates to build a team,” Cantwell said. “We will be in the market for two immediately.”

Norwest could not be reached for comment.

Action Item: Contact Andrew Cantwell at acantwell@carlsonprivatecapital.com

Andrew Cantwell (right) and Taylor Moore of Carlson Private Capital Partners. Photo courtesy of CPC