DLJ spin-out hires shipping exec

New York-based Avista Capital has hired a former Mobil executive as industry advisor to the firm’s energy practice.

New York-based private equity firm Avista Capital Partners has brought on Gerhard Kurz, a long time veteran of the offshore energy services and marine transportation industries, to serve as an industry advisor to the firm’s energy practice.

Kurz previously served as president and chief executive of marine support and transportation company Seabulk International. The Avista team invested in Seabulk in June 2002 while at DLJ Merchant Banking. As a condition to the investment’s closing, Kurz agreed to a five-year extension of his contract with Seabulk.

Gerhard Kurz

Avista president Steven Webster noted Kurz’s success “revitalising a smaller, resource-constrained company” in a statement.

During Kurz’s five years at Seabulk, EBITDA and share price doubled leading up to a merger with SEAPORT Holdings in 2005.

Prior to Seabulk, Kurz spent 36 years with Mobil Corporation including 11 years as Mobil Shipping and Transportation Company president.

At Mobil, Kurz “undertook such demanding initiatives as rebuilding Mobil’s tanker fleet though joint venture partnership”, according to Webster.

Kurz is Avista’s second energy industry advisor, joining former Trico Marine Services chief executive Trevor Turbidy who joined Avista in December 2007.

Avista was founded in 2005 by former DLJ Merchant Banking head Thompson Dean and 15 of his colleagues. The firm closed its first fund on $2 billion (€1.3 billion) in June 2007. The fund has made 19 investments to date across the energy, healthcare and media sectors.

Energy investments have included a $100 million investment in seismic technology provider Geokinetics, a $51 million investment in offshore drilling company Blake Offshore, and a $50 million investment in Celtique Energie for oil exploration in Europe and Africa. The firm has yet to announce an exit.