Highlander makes slew of promotions and hires

The evergreen fund manager in Dallas has promoted five investment professionals and added three people to its team.

Mid-market firm Highlander Partners has expanded its investment team, according to a Tuesday statement released by the firm.

The Dallas-based firm, which focuses on food and beverage, industrial and manufacturing, and consumer products investments, promoted co-founder and president Michael Nicolais to vice chairman and chief executive officer.

Prior to co-founding Highlander with current chairman Laurence Hirsch in 2004, Nicolais was a managing director at regional investment bank Stephens Inc. and a managing director and co-head of the Dallas office for investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, his profile on Highlander’s website indicated.

The firm also promoted managing partner Jeff Hull to president, though Hull will also retain his current position as managing partner, the statement said. Before joining Highlander in 2009, Hull was vice chairman, president and CEO of Strategic Equipment and Supply Corporation, which serves the food industry, according to Hull’s profile on Highlander’s website.

In addition, Highlander promoted director of business development Mark Blanchat to partner. He joined the firm in 2012 from BlackStripe Advisors, a boutique mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firm. Earlier in his career, Blanchat was a partner at mid-market advisory firm JIAN Group, according to the firm’s website.

Highlander made two other promotions, appointing Nick Thicksten as vice president to assist the head of alternative assets Stanley Bould, and Donald McNamara as associate to support the private equity team on buyouts, recapitalisations and growth financing, the statement said.

The firm also hired three professionals: Doran Smith as associate general counsel, Ben Slater as senior associate and Robert Koudelka as an analyst.

The slew of promotions comes after the firm expanded its investment capabilities into the technology and communications sector by bringing on Rashid Skaf, who will be tasked with sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities in those industries. Before joining Highlander, Skaf was the president and chief executive officer of audio visual technology firm AMX.

Highlander operates like an evergreen fund, with no investment vehicle. Its investment capital is supplied by an unchanging group of private investors, as Private Equity International previously reported.

The firm seeks controlling stakes in companies with a revenue of between $10 million and $500 million, and makes equity investments of $10 million to $75 million in the US, and $10 million to $50 million in Central Europe, according to its website.

The firm manages $1.2 billion in assets, the Tuesday statement said.

Aside from the Dallas office, Highlander also has a branch in Warsaw, Poland.

Highlander was unavailable to comment.