Ex-Goldman Executive Yoon Starts Private-Equity Fund

by Christine Harper, BLOOMBERG

Gene Yoon, who left Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in March after five years at the firm, won backing for a $500 million fund that plans to make private-equity investments similar to those he oversaw at his former company.

The money for Bregal Sagemount’s first pool was provided by Bregal Investments and the fund’s management team, Yoon said in a telephone interview today. Bregal Investments, the private-equity division of Zug, Switzerland-based Cofra Holding AG, has invested more than $9 billion since it was created a decade ago, according to a statement today.

“I do have a bit of an entrepreneurial bug in me and if there’s an opportunity go out and start your own fund that’s a tough thing to say no to,” Yoon said.

At Goldman Sachs, Yoon helped found the private-capital investing unit within the bank’s special situations group. That business invested the firm’s own money in growth sectors such as software by purchasing equity or debt in public or private companies.

Yoon said the unit is unaffected by the so-called Volcker rule, which is designed to limit banks from making speculative investments with their own money. He said it will continue at Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets.

“Everything we were doing in my business was completely Volcker compliant,” Yoon said. “There’s not a structural reason why I left or why that business can’t continue to succeed at Goldman.”

Investment Plans

Yoon, 37, said his two partners at New York-based Bregal Sagemount are Philip Yates, previously at private-equity firm Great Hill Partners LLC, and Daniel Kim, who was a vice president in Goldman Sachs’s special situations group. Bregal Sagemount also has two vice presidents and two associates with plans to have a total of nine or 10 people by the end of the year, Yoon said.

Bregal Sagemount plans to focus on investments of between $15 million and $75 million in areas such as business services, software, information and media, financial services and health care. The fund can make investments of as much as $150 million in partnership with Bregal Investments.

The fund will be more flexible in its investing style than some traditional private-equity funds, Yoon said.

“It’s not always going to be in a leveraged buyout, it’s not always going to be a minority investment, it’s not always going to look like equity, sometimes it could look like debt,” Yoon said. “And we want the flexibility to look at public and private situations.”

Wharton MBA

He declined to disclose the fee structure, other than to say it’s “industry standard economics.”

Goldman Sachs’s special situations group, a business that makes some loans in addition to investing the firm’s own money, has been led by Hong Kong-based Jason Brown since early last year. It reports most results as part of Goldman Sachs’s investing and lending segment, where revenue dropped 72 percent to $2.14 billion in 2011.

Yoon joined Goldman Sachs in 2007, after working at Boston-based Great Hill Partners. He received his bachelor’s degree and MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cofra is the holding company for the Brenninkmeijer family, which founded the closely held C&A Group clothing retailer in the Netherlands.

To contact the reporter on this story:

Christine Harper in New York at charper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

David Scheer at dscheer@bloomberg.net

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