Promoting the mission

One private equity firm is taking a creative approach to marketing.

North Castle Partners invests in what it calls the ?healthy living and aging? market. The Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm has the unenviable task of needing to educate the market about both its own strengths, and what, exactly, the healthy living and aging market is.

To do this, the firm has sought to exploit its most valuable assets – its network of advisors and current portfolio-company CEOs. Each year North Castle organizes conferences around the healthy living and aging topic, at which North Castle-backed CEOs figure prominently. And the firm also sends out a regular newsletter, called North Castle Partners Perspectives, which deserves credit for delivering its public relations message in a creative fashion, at least in comparison with what most private equity firms do. ?It's a half-click more interesting than just saying, ?We're North Castle Partners and we invest in healthy living and aging,?? says Charles Baird, the firm's founder.

The current issue of Perspectives presents snippets of wisdom from 16 North Castle advisors and portfolio-company CEOs. Among the ?best advice? soundbites is one from Monty Sharma, the CEO of Naked Juice, a beverage company, who says he allocates 95 percent of his energy to ?conviction and desire? and 5 percent to ?the plan.? He says he learned this from his father.

The annual healthy living and aging conferences are also designed to be something other than boring. The 2004 event was titled ?Sex, Drugs and Weight Control,? and included a speech from Dr. Andrew Weil, a celebrity lifestyle guru with a Moses-like beard.

Baird says his firm's public relations efforts have three audiences in mind, the most important of which are ?movers and shakers? in the industry who might bring a deal to North Castle or become the CEO of a portfolio company. Prospective LPs and existing contacts are also targeted.

?The objective of our PR efforts is for people to realize that we're doing more [to promote the firm's mission] than just sending out marketing pablum,? says Baird.

Apollo fund listing draws added capital
AP Alternative Assets, the publicly quoted private equity fund launched last month by Apollo Management, has raised more then expected. The vehicle overcame investor skepticism to raise $2 billion (€1.6 billion), a third more than expected. Like KKR Private Equity Investors, AP Alternative Assets is a Euro-next Amsterdam listed private equity fund. Apollo listed on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange on August 8, with 100 million shares at $20. A $600 million cornerstone investment by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority had given investors concerns about the liquidity of the vehicle but it also allowed the offer size to be increased. Apollo had put a $2.5 billion hard cap on the AP vehicle but demand was lower than expected following the after-market performance of the $5 billion investment vehicle raised by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Welsh Carson names operating executive
New York private equity firm Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe has named a former First Data Corp. executive as its new senior operating executive. Richard Aiello was previously senior vice president of strategic investments at First Data, where he oversaw all merger, acquisition and joint venture activities, according to a statement. At Welsh Carson, Aiello will help identify deals and assist with the oversight of portfolio companies. His appointment is part of a string of high-level hirings of operating executives within private equity firms. First Data was previously a portfolio company of Welsh Carson. Aiello has also worked at Card Establishment Services, which was acquired by First Data in 1995.

Carl Marks forms new investment unit
Carl Marks & Co. has launched a new investment unit that will focus on underperforming privately-held companies with an enterprise value between $10 million and $50 million. The unit, Carl Marks Merchant Banking Partners, will be led by Dennis Floam, a former vice president with Philip Morris Companies. ?We think there's a real opportunity in this marketplace, particularly with the skillset we have and our access to capital,? Floam said. ?It gives us a real competitive advantage.? Floam stressed that the new unit will be entirely separate from the activity of the rest of Carl Marks & Co. The firm currently invests in three distinct areas: traditional leveraged buyouts focused on the government and commercial services sectors, distressed debt investments and real estate investments. The new unit will focus on smaller, underperforming companies, adding a fourth area to the firm's activities. Carl Marks & Co. was established in 1925 as a foreign securities dealer, and in 1962 the company diversified into venture capital, private equity and real estate. In 1988 the firm exited the foreign securities business and since 1962 it has invested in more than 400 businesses and real estate properties.

New York nixed on retirement tax
A newly enacted law strikes down a practice of the New York State Department of Taxation to tax the retirement income of non-resident partners. The change applies retrocatively to 1996 for all professionals who are parties to partnerships, LLCs and other flow-through entities, according to a client update from law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. The clarification relates to a 1996 law that prohibits states from taxing nonresident retirement income. However, New York took a narrow view of this law that led the state to tax income derived from partnerships by out-of-state retired persons. Several other states practice similar tax policy. ?This clarification eliminates a decadeold ambiguity in retirement planning for investment and other professionals,? the update noted.