Castle Harlan names new president

Justin Wender, 37, will replace the New York buyout firm’s co-founder, Leonard Harlan, after a long period of gradual leadership transition, the firm announced.

Castle Harlan, the New York buyout firm, today announced that long-time partner Justin Wender has become president of the firm.

Wender, 37, will replace Leonard Harlan, who co-founded Castle Harlan along with John Castle in 1987.

Harlan will become chairman of the firm’s newly formed executive committee.

Wender was named chief investment officer and senior managing director of the firm in 2004. He joined Castle Harlan in 1993 and has been with the firm over three funds, the most recent of which closed on $1.2 billion (€936 million) in 2003.

Prior to joining Castle Harlan, Wender worked for two years in the corporate finance group of Merrill Lynch. He currently sits on the boards of Castle Harlan portfolio companies Morton’s Restaurant Group, McCormick & Schmick’s, Ames True Temper and Polypipe Global Holdings, among others.

Castle, chairman of the firm, said in a statement, “[Wender] has a collegial style that encourages people to work together effectively, and he commands the respect of his colleagues and our limited partners.”

In recent years, Wender has gradually taken on increased leadership roles at Castle Harlan. He recently has led the firm’s weekly meetings.

“John and Leonard have been incredible mentors to me. . .” Wender said in a statement.

Prior to forming Castle Harlan, Castle was president and chief executive of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, the investment bank that is now part of Credit-Suisse. Harlan was chairman and chief executive officer of The Harlan Company, Inc., a real estate investment banking and advisory firm. Prior to that Harlan was a vice president at DLJ.

Castle Harlan today has 10 managing directors. It concentrates on North American middle market businesses, but  has completed deals in the UK and Europe. It also has an affiliate in Sydney called CHAMP Private Equity.