Carousel Capital adds another $400 million to invest in Southeast firms

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Carousel Capital completed the fundraising for a $400 million fund, pushing its total to more than $1.2 billion since Erskine Bowles and Nelson Schwab started the business 20 years ago. It took the Charlotte-based private equity group just more than three months to raise its fifth fund, which eclipses its last round of about $265 million, raised in 2013. The fund exceeded its initial target of $300 million.

Charles S. Grigg

Charles Grigg

Bill Hobbs

Bill Hobbs

Jason Schmidly

Jason Schmidly

Charles Grigg, Bill Hobbs and Jason Schmidly now run the business; Bowles left day-to-day operations in 1998, while Schwab is now a senior adviser.

Carousel, which focuses exclusively on the Southeast, is among the largest private-equity groups in North Carolina. The only groups that have raised more money over the last 20 years are Ridgemont Equity Partners and Pamlico Capital, Charlotte-based firms that are outgrowths of the private investment arms of Bank of America and Wachovia, respectively, and Raleigh-based Cherokee Partners. The latter company specializes in environmental-remediation projects.

Carousel declined to disclose its investors, which have included a mix of wealthy individuals, insurers, endowments and foundations. The state of North Carolina pension fund is a longstanding investor.

Its 36 investments have included Fort Mill, S.C.-based Mergent, a business information provider; Greensboro-based Apex Analytix, which sells audit-related software; and Charlotte-based Driven Brands, operator of car-care franchises.

The company’s 2006 fund of $200 million ranked among the top 10% of private-equity funds in performance, according to a 2013 report. The company didn’t disclose the returns of its 2013 fund, which has reached its cap in investments.

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