Cerberus, Carlyle vets launch new fund

Cerberus Capital Management veteran Joyce Johnson-Miller and former Carlyle managing director Leslie Armitage have teamed up for a new private equity fund that will invest in debt and equity.

Joyce Johnson-Miller and Leslie Armitage have teamed up to launch a new private equity fund, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The pair is seeking around $300 million for the new vehicle, which is named The Relativity Fund, LP.

Joyce Johnson-Miller is helping lead a $300m fund drive for The Relativity Fund.

Johnson-Miller had spent eight years at Cerberus Capital Management prior to leaving at the start of 2002. At Cerberus, she had last served as a managing director, and oversaw more than $700 million for distressed companies and turnaround opportunities. After Cerberus, Johnson-Miller launched the JME Opportunity Fund, a New York-based firm that invests and trades in distressed companies.

Armitage, meanwhile, left Carlyle roughly a year ago. She had previously served as a managing director at the Washington DC firm and had last headed its consumer and retail team. Armitage had been with Carlyle since 1990, and was also active in many of its defence and automotive investments.

Johnson-Miller and Carlyle have a bit of a history. Carlyle recently invested alongside The Relativity Fund/JME in the buyout of Uni Boring this past November, but in 2000 Carlyle trumped a bid from JJM LLC – a fund Johnson-Miller ran separately from Cerberus – in a bankruptcy auction for Key Plastics.

The SEC filing for The Relativity Fund, dated March 7 and signed by Johnson-Miller, indicated that the new vehicle would invest in both equity and debt securities. The fund is seeking a minimum investment of $5 million from potential limited partners, and no placement agent was listed in the filing.

Calls to the Relativity Fund’s New York headquarters were not returned by press time.