Lefkowitz’s Sagewind Capital buys Athene Group

Sagewind Capital, the middle-market PE firm of Steve Lefkowitz, has clinched its seventh deal since it launched three years ago.

The New York buyout shop, along with Berenson Holdings, acquired Athene Group. Insight Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures are also investing in the transaction.

Terms of the deal, which closed Dec. 3, weren’t announced. Sagewind will have a controlling stake, said Lefkowitz, Sagewind’s managing partner.

Sanjeev Kumar, Athene’s president and CEO, and COO Kripa Shetty launched Athene in 2001.

First outside investors

The Sagewind deal is the first time the company is taking on any outside investors, Kumar said. He and Shetty will retain a minority stake in Athene.

“We looked at various options over the last few years and talked to lots of companies,” Kumar said. “We are very happy about the partners we have found and excited about the future of the organization.”

Athene, Herndon, Virginia, employs about 200. It offers cloud-based software, called Skience, that provides client onboarding, data-aggregation and compliance features for broker-dealers and investment advisers. The product is built on the Salesforce platform. Skience also offers a client portal, analytics and third-party fintech product integration.

Athene helps speed up client onboarding, said Raj Kanodia, a Sagewind principal. A wealth adviser would need about two weeks to open a bank account for a client without using the technology, Kanodia said. “It takes two minutes to open a bank account for a client with Athene,” he said.

The Athene transaction was not an auction process, executives said. Michael Crawford, a former principal of Hackett Group and current principal of advisory firm Blueshift Partners, introduced Athene to Sagewind in July, they said. Crawford is joining Athene as executive chairman, the statement said.

“We are excited to partner with Athene, which is well positioned to capitalize on the enormous opportunities for technology providers in the wealth management industry,” Lefkowitz said in a statement.

Athene is the latest deal for Lefkowitz, a noted buyout executive. Lefkowitz is the ex-president and COO of CI Capital, the former Caxton-Iseman Capital.

Lefkowitz and Frederick Iseman, chairman and CEO, founded Caxton-Iseman in 1993 to invest private capital on behalf of New York hedge fund group Caxton Associates.

Crowdsourced name

Lefkowitz launched Sagewind, which means good or sincere, in fall 2015. “That was a name that we crowdsourced,” he said. “We just liked the name.”

A middle-market investor, Sagewind targets companies with $5 million to $30 million of EBITDA. Sectors include government services, aerospace and defense, IT and software, as well as healthcare services and business services.

Athene is the firm’s seventh investment. Sagewind this year posted its first exit with the sale of Corfin Industries to Behrman Capital in February.

Lefkowitz emphasized that Sagewind is not an independent sponsor. The firm has a nontraditional fund, “a nine-figure committed single pool of capital” from a family office, he said.

Lefkowitz said he also invested “significant personal capital” in the pool.

He declined to name Sagewind’s investor but said it’s a multifamily office with more than $10 billion of capital.

“We are long-term investors and are totally patient capital,” he said. “We can own things as long as we want. We’re looking to create more wealth for people that don’t need their money back quickly.”

Action Item: For more information on Sagewind: www.sagewindcapital.com/