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Symetra Financial Buys Back Shares from Vestar Capital

By Matt Blumenfeld - SNL Insurance Daily - May 22, 2013

Symetra Financial Corp. purchased 6,089,999 of its common shares May 17 from certain affiliates of Vestar Capital Partners Inc., according to a Form 8-K filed May 21.

Symetra's board also authorized May 21 the expansion of the current stock repurchase program up to a total of 16 million common shares from the previously authorized amount of 10 million shares.

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Vestar Agrees to Sell Duff & Phelps

By David Carey and Cecile Daurat - Bloomberg L.P. - Dec 31, 2012

Vestar Capital Partners, which yesterday agreed to sell Duff & Phelps Corp. (DUF) to investors including Carlyle Group LP (CG) for $665.5 million, will reap a more than three-times return on its stake in the investment-banking firm.

Vestar, a New York-based buyout firm, paid about $53 million for a 34 percent stake in Duff & Phelps in 2005, according to a person familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the terms are private. Vestar previously pocketed about $160 million from the company in share sales and distributions, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It stands to get another $35.6 million when the sale is completed, the person said.

Vestar and Lovell Minnick Partners LLC, a Philadelphia-based buyout firm that invested an undisclosed amount in 2004, took Duff & Phelps public in 2007, raising about $133 million in an initial offering. The two private-equity firms subsequently cashed out the bulk of their holdings through follow-on sales.

Vestar, created in 1988 by Daniel S. O'Connell, Sander M. Levy and other members of First Boston Corp.'s buyout team, oversees about $7 billion in assets, according to its website. Levy did not return a call seeking comment on the transaction.

Ebitda Multiple

Carlyle and its Duff & Phelps co-investors -- Swiss bank Picter & Cie, U.S. private-equity firm Stone Point Capital LLC and Geneva-based Edmond de Rothschild Group -- are paying about eight times trailing 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the 80-year-old company. Revenue at the firm, which also provides financial-advisory services, is predicted to rise 17 percent this year to $465.8 million, the average of five analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Duff & Phelps, which has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, have declined 10 percent this year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 12 percent. The stock advanced 1.9 percent to $13.05 on Dec. 28, below the 2007 initial public offering price of $16.

The Duff & Phelps merger agreement provides for a "go-shop" period ending on Feb. 8, during which the company can solicit and receive alternative proposals. Duff & Phelps would pay a break-up fee of about $6.65 million if it gets a higher bid and ends the agreement before March 8.

A tonal version of the Vestar logo on a dark blue ground.

Vestar Announces 2012 Promotions

NEW YORK, NY - January 13, 2012 - Vestar Capital Partners, a leading US private equity firm, today announced several promotions and an appointment, effective immediately.

Andrew J. Cavanna and Brian P. O'Connor were promoted to Managing Director, John B. Stephens was promoted to Principal, and David N. Kestnbaum was promoted to Vice President.

"We believe these promotions are a well-deserved recognition of our team's talent and performance. We are pleased to recognize the contributions of these individuals and we look forward to sharing the benefits of their efforts with our partners in the future," said Dan O'Connell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Vestar.

Mr. Cavanna is a member of Vestar's Healthcare team. He joined the firm in 2006 from The Blackstone Group. Prior to Blackstone, he was a senior associate at JPMorgan Partners and an analyst in the Leveraged Finance Group at Merrill Lynch. Mr. Cavanna earned his BA in Economics and Government from Cornell University and his MBA from Columbia Business School.

Mr. O'Connor is a member of Vestar's Consumer team. He joined Vestar in 2000 from DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, spending two years at the firm prior to attending business school, rejoining Vestar in 2004. Mr. O'Connor holds both a BA and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Mr. Stephens, a member of Vestar's Consumer and Diversified Industries teams, joined the firm in 2006. Previously, he was a member of the Leveraged Finance Group at Wachovia Securities, where he worked on consumer- and healthcare-related financings. Mr. Stephens also worked at L.E.K. Consulting. He holds a BA from Middlebury College, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

Mr. Kestnbaum is a member of Vestar's Consumer and Diversified Industries teams. He joined the firm in 2006 from JPMorgan's Financial Sponsor Group, where he executed a variety of private equity-related M&A and financing assignments. Mr. Kestnbaum holds a BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Norman W. Alpert was named as the Head of Vestar's Consumer Sector. Mr. Alpert is a Managing Director and one of the founders of the firm and also serves as a member of the firm's Executive Committee. He was formerly a senior executive in the Management Buyout Group of the First Boston Corporation.

"In the 25 years since Vestar's founding, Norm has led many of the firm's key investments, most recently Press Ganey and HealthGrades," said Mr. O'Connell. "As Head of our Consumer franchise, Norm will be returning to a role he skillfully played in prior years and will be working closely with Kevin Mundt, President of Vestar Resources, and Brian O'Connor, Managing Director, to continue the long and successful Vestar tradition of identifying and developing opportunities in the consumer space."

About Vestar Capital Partners

Vestar is a leading private equity firm specializing in management buyouts and growth capital investments with $7 billion in assets under management. The firm targets companies in North America with valuations of $250 million to $3 billion in four key industry sectors: Consumer, Diversified Industries, Healthcare and Digital Media, and Financial Services. Vestar invests and collaborates with incumbent management teams, family owners or corporations in a creative, flexible and entrepreneurial way to build long-term franchise and enterprise value. Since the firm's founding in 1988, the Vestar funds have completed more than 70 investments in companies with a total value of more than $30 billion. Vestar has offices in New York, Boston and Denver. For more information, please visit Vestar's website at


Owen Blicksilver Public Relations
Carol Makovich
[email protected]

Jennifer Hurson
[email protected]

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Vestar to Sell Essent Healthcare

by Lisa Ward;  Updated 04:55 PM, Sep-07-2011 ET

After a long holding period, Vestar Capital Partners and Cressey & Co. are finally exiting hospital operator Essent Healthcare Inc. through a sale to Warburg Pincus-backed RegionalCare Hospital Partners Inc. valued at about $260 million, sources said.

The sale price equates to more than 8 times Ebitda, these sources said. Nashville-based Essent, which owns and operates three acute-care hospitals in Sharon, Conn.; Waynesburg, Pa.; and Paris, Texas; has between $25 million and $30 million of trailing 12-month Ebitda, these sources said.

The sale comes some three years after the sponsors first tried selling it just before the financial crisis hit. Vestar stands to make an attractive return on its $70 million investment. Both sponsors declined to comment on the transaction.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. committed debt financing to RegionalCare. Brentwood, Tenn.-based RegionalCare owns and operates four hospitals in Florence, Ala.; Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Ottumwa, Iowa; and Wilmington, Ohio.

New York-based Warburg Pincus helped launch RegionalCare in 2009 to back two hospital veterans, Martin Rash, the former chairman and CEO of Province Healthcare Co., and its former president and COO, John Rutledge. Their company was acquired for $1.1 billion by Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals Inc. in March 2005.

Warburg invested $300 million of equity in RegionalCare in 2009. In April 2011 RegionalCare raised an additional $267 million of equity in a private placement, according to regulatory filings.

Since its formation, RegionalCare has acquired three hospitals operating in rural areas. In April 2010, it bought Ottumwa Regional Health System for an undisclosed price. In June 2010 RegionalCare acquired Coffee Health Group in Florence, Ala., and Clinton Memorial Hospital in Wilmington. Clinton was acquired for about $55 million, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Essent dates to 1999, when Cressey backed W. Hudson Connery, former COO of Health Trust Inc., a hospital operator sold to Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. in 1995. Cressey initially invested $50 million in the company.

Connery reportedly envisioned buying small, underperforming hospitals from large systems, but it ended up buying small, rural hospitals instead.

Vestar recapitalized Essent in January 2005, investing $70 million out of its fourth fund. Cressey, then Thoma Cressey Equity Partners, injected an additional $10 million. The capital helped shore up the company's balance sheet and fund the purchase of Christus St. Joseph's Health Systems in Paris, Texas. Essent secured $55 million in senior debt and a $20 million revolver as part of the deal.

The sponsors were hoping to auction off Essent, but the process was derailed when markets soured. Before resuming a process, the sponsors decided that Essent should divest two particular hospitals in Massachusetts. Because Massachusetts is the only U.S. state that mandates universal healthcare, these hospitals would only interest a select group of buyers.

In December Essent found a buyer in Cerberus Capital Management LP-backed Steward Healthcare System LLC. Boston-based Steward, now one of the state's largest hospital networks, bought the 124-bed Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, Mass., and the 57-bed Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Mass., for about $40 million.

Barclays Capital was the exclusive financial adviser to Essent. Kirkland & Ellis LLP's Mike Movsovich, Kester Spindler and Stefanie Wool, along with Pat Gallagher and David Grenker, represented Essent, together with K&L Gates LLP.

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP advised RegionalCare.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP represented each of the banks.

Hospital operators have been attractive targets for private equity over the past two decades, but industry sources expect the pace of investing to accelerate in the next year as many small, independent hospitals increasingly struggle to stay solvent.

Reimbursement rates from the government and providers result in shrinking revenues, and that trend is likely to continue, sources said.

At the same time, healthcare reform requires hospitals to make large investments in technology upgrades, just as traditional sources of funding, such as municipal bond markets, have been dried up.

A tonal version of the Vestar logo on a dark blue ground.

Vestar Announces 2011 Promotions

We are happy to announce two new promotions, Michael Gross and Patrick Kane, to Senior Associate.

As a reminder, Mike has been an Associate in Vestar's Financial Services group since joining the firm in 2008. Previously he was a member of the Financial Institutions Group at Credit Suisse Securities. Mike holds a BS in Business Administration, with majors in Finance and Accounting, from Indiana University. He also holds an MBA from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. Mike was instrumental in Vestar's most recent investment in Triton container.

Patrick is an Associate in Vestar's Munich office for the past year after spending three years in NY working on multiple investments including Press Ganey. He came to the firm in 2007 from Morgan Stanley, where he worked in the Healthcare Investment Banking group. Patrick earned his BA in International Studies, magna cum laude, from Middlebury College.

We would also like to welcome back Winston Song. Winston will return to Vestar this summer as a Senior Associate, after receiving his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. During Winston's prior tenure at Vestar, he worked closely on RTS and Birds Eye investments.

Logo for AZ Electronic Materials.

Vestar Completes AZ IPO

Financial Times (Saturday, October 30, 2010)

By Courtney Weaver and John O'Doherty

Shares in AZ Electronic Materials rose 6 percent on the first day of conditional trading on Friday, after the chemicals group priced its London-listed shares at 240p, the middle of the range it had set.

The price values the Luxembourg-incorporated company at £914m with trading on the main market to commence officially on Wednesday. Shares in AZ, which makes chemicals used in semiconductors and flat screens, closed at 255p, up 15p.

The initial public listing is raising £382m with 34 percent coming from the sale of existing shares and the remainder from new shares. UBS, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank were join sponsors and bookrunners of the IPO. Carlyle Group and Vestar Capital Partners, the group's private equity owners, will each retain shareholdings of 21.4 percent after the float, while the group's managers will hold 8.7 percent.

Private equity-backed groups, once the darlings of City investors, are now having a tougher time coming to market as many peers have underperformed. Shares in Promethean World, the educational IT provider, have fallen more than 30 percent since the company's march offering, while NXP, the Dutch chipmaker, has dropped 6 percent since listing on Nasdaq in August. Bankers working on the AZ deal said they believed the offering could be a trigger for other private equity controlled groups to try to tap the market again following a slew of cancelled or postponed offerings.

But a person close to the deal said that market conditions were favourable for AZ. For future issuers "an external shock or some macro event could negatively influence the environment", the person said.

Geoff Wild, chief executive of AZ, said the company was "delighted with the outcome of the IPO, which received an excellent response from major institutions and demonstrates investors' confidence in our business."

The company makes 70 percent of its revenues in Asia but chose London for the offering because of the City's concentration of institutional investors covering specialty chemicals. It has more than doubled earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization over the past few years thanks to increasing demand for its chemicals found in electrical appliances such as Apple's iPad.

The Vestar logo on a gold colored back ground.

Vestar Announces 2010 Promotions

NEW YORK, NY - January 21, 2010 - Vestar Capital Partners, a leading international private equity firm, today announced nine promotions. Evan Marks, Brendan J. Spillane and Oussama I. Takla have been promoted to Managing Director; Garrick D. Bernstein has been promoted to Principal; Fabrizio Gualdi, Gregor Hengst and John B. Stephens have been promoted to Vice President; and Patrick Hofmann and David N. Kestnbaum have been promoted to Senior Associate.

"We are delighted to have such talented individuals on our team and we are pleased to recognize their contributions to the firm," said Daniel S. O'Connell, CEO of Vestar. "These individuals have played a significant role in Vestar's success during the recent challenging economic environment."

Mr. Marks, based in Vestar's New York City office, joined the firm in 2007. He is currently a member of Vestar's Resources Group. Previously, Mr. Marks was with WebMD and prior to that he was Vice President of Marketing for Medco. Following Medco's sale to Merck & Co., he became a member of Merck's Worldwide Business Strategy Team. Mr. Marks is a graduate of New York University and holds a BS in Finance.

Mr. Spillane, based in New York City, joined Vestar in 2006 as Executive Vice President and Corporate Chief Financial Officer. He came to Vestar from SV Investment Partners, the U.S. affiliate of Schroder Ventures, where he served as CFO. Previously, Mr. Spillane served as the CFO of Schafer Capital Management, a registered investment adviser. He started his career in the audit practice at Price Waterhouse. Mr. Spillane holds his BS from Manhattan College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Mr. Takla joined Vestar Europe's Paris office in 2001. Previously, he was in the Corporate Finance and Merchant Banking division of Goldman Sachs and prior to that, he worked at Coopers & Lybrand as a management consultant. Mr. Takla holds an engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.

Mr. Bernstein, based in New York City, came to Vestar in 2004. He is currently a member of Vestar's Media and Healthcare Groups. Previously, Mr. Bernstein was with Dolphin Equity Partners and prior to that, he was a member of the Global Communications Group at Merrill Lynch. Mr. Bernstein holds a BA, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Gualdi joined Vestar Europe's Milan office in 2005 after four years in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department of Morgan Stanley Investment Bank in London and Milan. He earned his Master's Degree in Business Administration and Economics, summa cum laude, from Italy's LIUC University.

Dr. Hengst joined Vestar Europe's Munich office as a Senior Associate in 2008. Previously, he was with McKinsey & Company in Munich and before that was with the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and with Commerzbank in Cologne. Dr. Hengst earned his doctorate degree in law, summa cum laude, from Cologne University.

Mr. Stephens, based in Vestar's Denver office, joined Vestar in 2006 and is presently a member of the Consumer and Diversified Industries Groups. Previously, he was a member of the Leveraged Finance Group at Wachovia Securities and prior to that he worked at L.E.K. Consulting. Mr. Stephens holds a BA, magna cum laude, from Middlebury College, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

Mr. Hofmann joined Vestar's Munich office as an Associate in 2008. Previously, he spent two years in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs in London, and prior to that he worked in several divisions of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. Mr. Hofmann holds a Master's Degree in Accounting and Finance and a BA in Business Administration from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Mr. Kestnbaum, based in New York City, joined the firm in 2006 and is currently a member of Vestar's Diversified Industries and Business Services Groups. Previously, Mr. Kestnbaum was with JPMorgan's Financial Sponsor Group. Mr. Kestnbaum holds a BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a graduate of Choate Rosemary Hall.

About Vestar Capital Partners

Vestar Capital Partners is a leading international private equity firm specializing in management buyouts and growth capital investments with $7 billion in assets under management. The firm targets companies in the U.S. and Europe with valuations of $250 million to $3 billion and operations in five key industry sectors: consumer/services, diversified industries, healthcare, media/communication, and financial services. Vestar invests and collaborates with incumbent management teams, family owners or corporations in a creative, flexible and entrepreneurial way to build long-term franchise and enterprise value. Since the firm's founding in 1988, the Vestar funds have completed more than 65 investments in companies with a total value of more than $30 billion. Vestar has operations in New York, Boston, Denver, Milan, Munich and Paris. For more information, please visit


Kristin Celauro
Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, Inc.
+1 (732) 291-5456

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Vestar Announces 2009 Promotions

NEW YORK, NY - November 2, 2009 - Vestar Capital Partners, a leading international private equity firm, today announced the following organizational developments:

  • We have decided to discontinue our efforts in Japan following a three-year period. Notwithstanding the hard work and diligent efforts by our Tokyo team, the Japanese market continues to be challenging for private equity, and our ability to find attractive investments did not meet our expectations. As a result, we have closed our Tokyo office and are no longer looking to make direct investments in Japanese buyouts.
  • John R. Woodard, who headed up our effort in Japan, has returned to the U.S. and is now leading our Diversified Industries Group. John's 20 years plus of private equity experience will prove invaluable to Vestar as we identify and execute on future investment opportunities during this period of dislocation. John can be reached in our Denver office at 303-294-1821 or via email at [email protected].
  • We are pleased to announce Roger C. Holstein as Co-Head of our Healthcare Group. Since joining Vestar in 2006, Roger has been instrumental in identifying investment opportunities and improving strategy and operating performance across our portfolio, particularly in healthcare. Prior to joining Vestar, Roger was CEO of WebMD. Roger can be reached in our New York office at 212-351-1650 or via email at [email protected].
  • Kenneth J. O'Keefe will take on additional responsibilities in his new role as our Chief Operating Officer. Ken joined Vestar in 2006, having earlier served as CFO of Vestar II portfolio company Pyramid Communications and subsequently as COO of another major broadcast entity. Ken's new responsibilities will include oversight of firmwide administration and investor relations. Ken will continue to serve as a member of both Vestar Resources and our Media and Communications Group. Ken can be reached in our Boston office at 617-598-2999 or at [email protected].
  • David N. Kestnbaum, who joined our Associate program three years ago from JP Morgan, has been named Senior Associate. David will be focusing on the Diversified Industries, Consumer and Business Services Sectors. David can be reached in our New York office at 212-351-1643 or at [email protected].

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ken O'Keefe at 617-598-2999 or at [email protected].

About Vestar Capital Partners

Vestar Capital Partners is a leading international private equity firm. The firm's investment strategy is targeted towards companies in the U.S. and Europe with valuations in the $100 million to $5 billion range. Since the firm's founding in 1988, the Vestar funds have completed over 65 investments in companies with a total value of over $30 billion. These companies have varied in size and geography and span a broad range of industries. The firm's strategy is to invest behind incumbent management teams, family owners or corporations in a creative, flexible and entrepreneurial way with the overriding goal to build long-term franchise value. Vestar currently manages funds with committed capital totaling approximately $7 billion and has offices or affiliates operating in New York, Denver, Boston, Paris, Milan and Munich. More information about Vestar is available at


Kristin Celauro
Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, Inc.
+1 (732) 291-5456

Symetra Retirement Benefits logo.

Vestar Announces Symetra IPO

Bellevue, Wash., Oct. 5, 2009 - Symetra Financial Corporation (Symetra) announced today it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of common stock.

The offering will consist of primary shares to be sold by the company and secondary shares to be sold by some of its existing stockholders. Symetra intends to use the net primary proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, which may include contributions of capital to its insurance subsidiaries and pursuit of its growth strategies. The company will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders.

An investment group led by White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd., and Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns Symetra. Upon completion of this offering, these two shareholders will continue to beneficially own common stock in the company.

Symetra will apply to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "SYA." A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. This news release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

The offering of these securities will be made only by means of a prospectus, copies of which may be obtained, when available, from BofA Merrill Lynch, Attention: Prospectus Department, 4 World Financial Center, New York, New York 10080, or by calling (212) 449-1000; from J.P. Morgan, 4 Chase Metrotech Center, CS Level, Brooklyn, New York 11245, Attention: Prospectus Department, or by calling (718) 242-8002; Goldman, Sachs & Co., Prospectus Department, 85 Broad Street, New York, New York 10004, or by calling (866) 471-2526, or by facsimile at (212) 902-9316, or by emailing [email protected]; or from Barclays Capital, c/o Broadridge, Integrated Distribution Services, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, New York 11717, [email protected], or by calling (888) 603-5847.

About Symetra Financial

Symetra Financial Corp. and its subsidiaries provide employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions and independent agents and advisors. Headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., Symetra and its subsidiaries have approximately $21 billion in assets.1

1Total GAAP assets at June 30, 2009.

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Vestar's Sun Products Acquisition of Unilever Named Corporate/Strategic Deal of the Year

Under the title, "Vestar Makes a Clean Sweep," ACQ selected Vestar's purchase of Unilever's North American fabric care business as its 2008 Deal of the Year.

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