Jack and JLL went up the hill, to fetch a pail of ... portfolio companies? JLL Partners (formerly Joseph, Littlejohn & Levy) is anything but child's play. The private equity firm seeks controlling stakes in middle-market companies in a range of industries, including aerospace and defense, business and financial services, building products, education, and health care. An active investor, it works with its portfolio companies' management to help develop strategy, foment growth, and make acquisitions. JLL Partners diversified beyond private equity in 2010 when it formed alternative asset manager JLL Capital Partners, which invests in distressed debt of middle-market firms.
The firm has returned more than $2.1 billion to its limited partners since 2010.
Since its founding in 1988, JLL Partners has managed six private equity funds totaling some $4.2 billion in committed capital from institutional investors such as corporations, pension funds, university endowments, and financial institutions. Seeking out targets that have experienced management and strong fundamentals or in out-of-favor industries, the company specializes in leveraged buyouts, restructurings, and turnaround situations. It currently has stakes in more than a dozen firms. Holdings include ACE Cash Express, Builders FirstSource, and IASIS Healthcare Corporation. After taking its portfolio company NetSpend (acquired in mid-2008) public in 2010, the company was acquired in 2013 by Total Systems Services for $1.4 billion in an all-cash deal. As the largest shareholder in NetSpend, JLL realized more than five times its initial investment in the debit card company. Also in 2013, the firm's portfolio company Loar Group purchased Connecticut-based AGC Inc., a manufacturer of aerospace components for original equipment manufacturers as well as a supplier of aftermarket aircraft services. To date, the firm has made 37 platform investments, and more than 50 add-on acquisitions.
In March 2014 JLL Partners completed a merger between its portfolio company Pantheon Inc., a drugmaker, and vitamin maker Royal DSM NV's drug business, realizing about a 200% gain on its investment. Also in March, the firm recouped almost half of its $85 million investment in BioClinica through a recapitalization and merger with a competitor.
In 2013 the firm profitably exited window maker PGT and NetSpend Holdings. It also realized gains on recapitalizing and taking public JGWPT Holdings, which operates under the J.G. Wentworth brand. The firm is gathering commitment for its seventh fund with a $1 billion target.