Onex partners with former Eddie Bauer CEO

Former CEO of Eddie Bauer Neil Fiske will help Onex source and oversee investments in the retail sector. He is the third executive to strike an exclusive partnership with Onex since 2008.

Onex Corporation has established a strategic partnership with Neil Fiske, former chief executive officer of clothing store chain Eddie Bauer, to work exclusively with the firm as a retail industrial partner.

Fiske will help Onex source and execute investment opportunities in the retail sector. Prior to joining Eddie Bauer, Fiske was CEO of beauty product retailer Bath and Body Works. He was previously a partner in the retail practice of The Boston Consulting Group, where he worked for 14 years.

“Industrial partnerships have served us well,” Onex chairman and CEO Gerald Schwartz said in a statement. “Our building products and gaming partnerships have led to several proprietary opportunities.”
Onex declined to comment further.

Onex has similar partnerships with Philip Orsino, former CEO of building products manufacturer Masonite International, and Alex Yemenidjian, former senior executive at Las Vegas hotel and casino MGM Grand. Orsino played an instrumental role in Onex’s acquisition of RSI Home Products in 2008 and last year was named president of building products company JELD-WEN, which Onex acquired in 2008 for $871 million.

Yemenidjian is currently the CEO and co-owner of hotel and casino Tropicana Las Vegas, which Onex acquired in 2009 for $279 million.

While Orsino and Yemenidjian both head up Onex portfolio companies, the firm’s industrial partners do not always join the senior management team of businesses acquired by Onex, though typically they will provide guidance to portfolio companies by sitting on company boards. 

Onex’s partnership with Fiske comes less than one week after the firm’s first acquisition of 2012, an $813 million investment in graphics services company SGS International.

Many private equity firms hire operating executives with specific sector expertise as “operating partners” or “senior advisors” to help identify investment opportunities and manage portfolio companies.

PEI will take an in-depth look at the way private equity firms affect operational changes at portfolio companies in our upcoming edition focused on operational improvements.