Catalyst hires Citi vet ahead of $400m fundraise

The New York-based firm has hired Gene Wolfson, former head of Citi's distressed equity trading group.

Catalyst Investors has hired former Citigroup executive Gene Wolfson to help guide the firm into new areas of growth.

Wolfson, who joined Catalyst about two weeks ago, most recently led Citi's distressed equity trading group. He said he will liaise with Catalyst's investors as well as help the firm explore other investment opportunities like joint ventures and co-sponsored investments. 

Catalyst, which is led by co-founder Brian Rich, plans to launch its third fund in 2009 and is looking to raise $300 million (€283 million) to $400 million. Rich, who oversees Catalyst's investment process, also founded TD Capital, a  firm that makes US-based investments  in communications-related industries for Toronto Dominion Bank.

Catalyst is also interested in finding public companies that are attractively valued, a departure from its previous strategy.

Valuations of public companies for the past few years have been high because of the amount of money available for buy outs, but with the contraction of the debt markets fueled by the crisis in the housing market, he said valuations have come back down to “a more reasonable and justifiable level”.

Wolfson said Catalyst anticipates numerous investment opportunities next year in public companies with attractive valuations, particularly in the last half of the year. 

“We want to have a war chest when those opportunities arise,” Wolfson said.

Catalyst looks to invest in companies that have 10 percent revenue growth over a three- to five-year period, increasing product penetration in the market and low start up risk, Wolfson said. 

The firm's first fund, raised in 2000, totalled $110 million, and its second fund, raised in 2007, collected $170 million.