Bear Stearns hires retail veteran

The private equity arm of the financial services giant has added Richard Markee, who brings a strong background in the international retail sector from his work at Toys ‘R’ Us and Target.

New York-based private equity firm Bear Stearns Merchant Banking has hired Richard Markee to be an operating partner at the firm, Bear Stearns said in a statement.

“This appointment demonstrates BSMB’s continuing commitment to pursue investment opportunities in retail,” Richard Perka, the senior managing director of Bear Stearns, said in the statement.

Richard Markee: new to Bear Stearns

Markee joins the firm from toy store franchise Toys “R” Us, Inc., the statement said. There, he served as the Japanese branch’s chairman and expanded the company’s baby products division, Babies “R” Us. Markee was also in charge of the company’s international operations, US toy store distribution, information technology and international franchising.
Markee has also worked for the department store Target. At Target, he served as the vice president of merchandising.

Bear Stearns is the private equity branch of The Bear Stearns Companies Inc., a company that is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “BSC”. Founded in 1997, the firm invests in leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations and growth capital opportunities, the statement said. It has made a number of investments in the retail industry, including Bethesda, Maryland-based specialty food company Balducci’s, Petaluma, California-based hands-free hydration systsems manufacturer CamelBak Products, Lombard, Illinois-based Harlem Furniture, New York-based women’s apparel and accessories retailer New York & Company, Dallas, Texas-based ice manufacturer and distributor Reddy Ice, Los Angeles, California-based denim jeans maker Seven For All Mankind and North Bergen, New Jersey-based  health supplement distributor Vitamin Shoppe.

Bear Stearns agreed to acquire designer swimwear retailer Water Water Everywhere for an undisclosed amount in August and plans to merge the company with its portfolio company Everything But Water, an independent specialty retailer of women’s swimwear in the US. Bear Stearns acquired Everything But Water for an undisclosed amount in April.

The firm focuses on middle market companies valued between $25 million and $150 million. It has made investments in 51 portfolio companies since its inception in July of 2003.