"Our business is very different," Templeton said. "All the companies are privately owned, so finding opportunities is harder."
When co-founders Tony Tamer, a former partner at Bain & Co., and Sami Mnaymneh founded H.I.G. Capital in Miami in 1993, they raised $75 million for the firm's first leveraged buyout fund.
Today, the firm has more than $10 billion in assets under management, and is the largest private equity firm in Florida, and one of the nation's largest private equity firms exclusively serving the middle market, said Executive Managing Director Doug Berman. The middle market is typically defined as deals valued between $50 million and $500 million.
H.I.G. has grown from seven employees when Berman joined in 1996, to more than 200 investment professionals. During the same time, it has opened offices in Atlanta, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas, as well as London, Paris, Hamburg, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.
H.I.G. has four leveraged buyout funds and more are planned for the future, said Berman, who is responsible for the U.S. leveraged buyout business.
"Our goal is to be the premier alternative asset manager to the middle market," he said. "That means, not only do we have the [leveraged buyout] fund, but seven or eight different funds."
The funds include a $500 million Growth Equity fund that provides capital to smaller businesses with growth potential; H.I.G. Bio Ventures, a $200 million life sciences fund; Bayside, a debt fund totaling $5 billion in assets that makes loans and buys debt; H.I.G. Realty Partners, a real estate fund that invests primarily in multifamily residential buildings and commercial real estate; and a $900 million European fund, which invests in leveraged buyouts in Europe.
H.I.G. has invested in more than 200 companies and remains the controlling shareholder in more than 70, which have combined revenue of more than $9 billion, Berman said. Within the past two weeks, for example, the private equity firm sold Texas Honing, an oilfield equipment business, to publicly traded Precision Castparts Corp., after doubling both its revenues and earnings in five years, Berman said.
To find its investments, H.I.G. looks at thousands of companies a year and makes onsite visits at hundreds of companies, which is unusually high, he said. On average each year, across its funds, H.I.G. invests in about 25 businesses.
"When we are looking at companies, high-quality management teams -- management teams that have both skill and integrity, is first and foremost," Berman said.
What sets H.I.G. apart, Berman said, is that the majority of its professionals have consulting or operating backgrounds from working in managerial positions in corporate America, instead of having investment banking backgrounds. So they work daily with the companies H.I.G. invests in, helping enter new markets, expand product lines, win new customers or find better suppliers.
H.I.G. often also enhances the management team by hiring CEOs, CFOs, or heads of sales and marketing.
"So we work to supplement the management teams when appropriate to really give these companies the best possible opportunity to succeed," Berman said. "At the end of the day, that is how we make money, by growing businesses. We're not expert cost cutters. We are looking for companies with outstanding growth prospects, defensible market positions and high-quality management teams, and we help them achieve success."
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