Bear Stearns enters fund placement business

The acquisition of the placement agent Crane Capital Associates has added a global platform from which the bank can compete with the likes of Credit Suisse and UBS.

New York-based financial services company Bear Stearns has bought the international fund placement business of Crane Capital Associates for an undisclosed amount.

Paul Sanabria, a senior managing director of Bear Stearns Asset Management, and Leo van den Thillart, formerly a senior managing parter at Crane Capital, will lead the new group, known as the Bear Stearns Private Fund Group. Sanabria will be located in the firm’s New York office, while van den Thillart will work from its London office.

Crane Capital has offices in the US, UK, Europe, Norway, Australia and Japan. Its clients include alternative investment managers in the buyout, venture capital, real estate and secondaries markets, Bear Stearns said in a statement. Crane Capital’s widespread presence outside the US will benefit Bear Stearn’s global platform, Richard Marin, chairman and chief executive officer of Bear Stearns Asset Management, said in the statement.

Many investment banks have placement agents associated with them, including Credit Suisse First Boston, Merrill Lynch, UBS, Citigroup and Jefferies. Jefferies, which specialises in mid-market corporate finance, entered the placement agent business in the same way as Bear Stearns by acquiring Helix Associates, a European private equity fund placement group, for an undisclosed amount in 2005.

The Bear Stearns Companies were founded in 1923. The firm services governments, corporations, institutions and individuals across the world. It focuses on institutional equities, fixed income, investment banking, global clearing services, asset management and private client services. It is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BSC.

Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, the bank’s mid-market private equity affiliate bought two Latin American divisions of US bank Wells Fargo for an undisclosed amount last month. The investment came from the firm’s third fund, Bear Stearns Merchant Bainking Partners III, which closed at $2.7 billion last August.