Liberty pros defect to form rival firm

Two managing directors have left New York middle-market buyout firm and Florida public pension affiliate Liberty Partners and teamed with other professionals to launch a new middle-market platform, Hudson Ferry Capital.

Liberty Partners, a New York middle-market buyout firm that primarily manages the capital of the Florida State Board of Administration, has lost to managing directors, who announced today the creation of a new firm.

Paul Huston and Stephen Fisher have left Liberty Partners to form Hudson Ferry Capital, according to a press release. Joining the two are Liberty Partners vice president Timothy Ross, Kenner & Company managing director Mark Deutsch and GE Antares Capital managing director Bruce Robertson.

Kenner & Company is a New York private investment firm that concentrates on home building products, while GE Antares Capital is a division of GE that provides financing to middle-market transactions. The firm was recently created when General Electric bought Chicago-based Antares Capital.

Hudson Ferry will be based in New York and will focus on middle-market business ranging from $20 million to $75 million and up to $200 million with LP co-investments. The firm will focus on manufacturing, building products, outsourcing and business services.

Liberty Partners was formed in 1992 with the Florida state public pension as its sole limited partner. The firm is led by president Peter Bennett, who had spent 21 years at Merrill Lynch.

Fisher joined Liberty in 1994 from law firm Kirkland & Ellis. Huston joined the firm in 1992 from Merrill Lynch.

Liberty’s most recent transaction was the $144.5 million acquisition of vocational school operator Concorde Colleges.