Cypress adds Safety-Kleen CEO as partner

The New York private equity firm has hired industrial executive Ronald Rittenmeyer as a managing director to monitor the firm’s portfolio and lead investments in the industrial sector.

New York-based private equity firm The Cypress Group announced today the hiring of Ronald Rittenmeyer, former chairman and chief executive officer of Safety-Kleen, as a managing director to oversee and monitor the performance of the firm’s portfolio companies. In addition, Rittenmeyer will seek investment opportunities in the industrial sector.

Rittenmeyer will join the firm’s 10 senior members, including founder James Stern, vice-chairmen David Spalding and Jeff Hughes, President Jamie Singleton and six other managing directors.

Rittenmeyer’s hiring follows a couple of other high-profile moves among private equity firms looking to bolster the operational management of their portfolio companies. Last week, Texas Pacific Group hired Vincenzo Morelli, a former executive with Clayton Dubilier & Rice and a recent consultant at Alvarez & Marsal, to monitor the firm’s European portfolio. In a similar move last year, The Blackstone Group recruited James Quella, a former managing director at DLJ Merchant Banking, to supervise Blackstone’s own portfolio management effort.

Rittenmeyer spent 20 years at Pepsico’s Frito-Lay division, where he rose to vice president of operations, before accepting four other management positions in the same number of years, including chief operating officer of Burlington Railroad; president and COO of computer distributor Merisel; president and COO of Ryder TRS; and chairman, CEO and president of railroad operator RailTex.

In February 2000, Rittenmeyer became CEO and president of bankrupt food service distributor Ameriserve. Eighteen months later, after the company had emerged from Chapter 11, Rittenmeyer left to run Safety-Kleen, a hazardous waste distributor, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in December 2003.

Founded in 1994, The Cypress Group currently manages more than $3.5 billion (€2.7 billion) of capital through two private equity funds, including Cypress Merchant Banking Partners II, which closed on $2.5 billion in 1999.