Citi Dumps In-House Buyout Group

Citi has killed off an internal buyout group called Citi Venture Capital, resulting in seven layoffs and a small portfolio up for grabs. Private Equity Insider first reported the news yesterday, and peHUB has since confirmed the details with multiple sources.

CVC was launched last summer, shortly after Citi spun out an existing buyout business now known as Court Square Capital Partners. Its three managing directors — Tony Bienstock, Alex Coleman and Joe Levy — all came over from Park Avenue Equity, although Court Square managing partner Bill Comfort stuck around part-time to serve as chairman. Just months later, however, Citi gobbled up MetalMark Capital, and the new group began looking redundant.

Fast forward to today, and Comfort is the only CVC staffer still receiving a paycheck. He is said to be interested in putting in a bid for the group’s four-company portfolio (valued at around $150m), which includes Texas drink phenomenon Big Red and high-end plastic dinnerware maker Waddington. A source says that if Comfort’s bid is competitive, then he’ll almost certainly win. If not, Citi has already opened discussions with direct secondary firms.

It is unclear is any Comfort bid would be on behalf of Court Square, or if he’d help get the CVC gang back together. We should know soon.

Citi isn’t commenting, but it did send over a handy overview of its Alternative Investment unit. I’m apparently not the only one who sometimes gets Citi Venture Capital confused with Citi Venture Capital International, or Citi Private Equity. Here you go: CAI.pdf