STORY OF EXODUS

Bear Stearns' sudden downward spiral, its unique rescue by the Federal Reserve and subsequent sale to JPMorgan Chase – for what many noted was less than the value of its New York headquarters – sparked a wave of analysis, speculation and conspiracy theories about the sequence of events.

Aside from grappling with how one of Wall Street's biggest investment banks could fall so hard and fast, pundits and the public continue to ponder what will become of the bank's various divisions, which since the sale completed in May, are now part of JPMorgan.

Many Bear employees, however, are not waiting for answers. Alternative asset managers are eagerly capitalising on a fresh glut of talent searching for stable employment.

The private equity practice of boutique investment bank Evercore Partners was one of the first to get in on the action, snapping up David Celentano, the former head of Bear's financial restructuring practice.

Celentano, who helped advise clients such as General Motors and Time Warner Cable through difficult restructurings, will join Evercore's William Repko and David Ying in the firm's restructuring advisory practice.

Shortly afterward, Centerview Partners' private equity unit announced it had tapped Bear media and entertainment finance chief Lisbeth Barron to broaden its advisory services.

Tudor Investment didn't settle for snagging just one prominent Bear alumnus. Seeking to launch its debut debt investment group, the hedge and venture manager hired almost all of Bear's distressed debt team, headed by long-time Bear veterans Gregory Hanley and Alan Mintz.

Tudor has indicated that the Bear team could eventually spin off as an independent advisory business, in which Tudor would be a strategic partner.

The exodus of Bear employees could also prove something of a blessing in disguise to the newly independent Bear Stearns Merchant Bank, the private equity group which, though it has always been a fairly independent unit, announced plans in early June to spin out of JPMorgan.

“This event has allowed us to immediately deepen and strengthen our relationships all over The Street where many of our colleagues at Bear Stearns are landing,” managing director Gwyneth Ketterer recently told sister website PrivateEquityOnline.com.

BLACKSTONE HIRES MERRILL LYNCH EXECUTIVE AS CFO
The Blackstone Group has tapped Merrill Lynch executive Laurence Tosi as chief financial officer, replacing long-time finance chief Michael Puglisi. Tosi, chief operating officer for Merrill Lynch's global markets and investment banking group, will assume his post at Blackstone in August or September and will serve as a member of the firm's executive committee. Tosi, 40, will fill the shoes of long-time fixture Puglisi, who joined the firm in 1994, well before its meteoric rise and public offering last year. Puglisi, 57, will remain with the company to assist Tosi's transition and head various special projects.

GREENHILL LAUNCHES PLACEMENT ARM WITH LEHMAN TEAM
Boutique investment bank Greenhill & Company has tapped five members of Lehman Brothers' placement team to launch its own private placement service. Christopher Kirsten, global head of Lehman's private fund marketing group since 2003, will direct the division. He resigned from Lehman earlier this month, just two months after Lehman appointed UBS placement head Mark Bourgeois to oversee its combined alternative investment marketing teams. Before Lehman, Kirsten was a senior member of Deutsche Bank's private equity finance group. To round out the unit, Greenhill has also hired Lehman's Patrick Dunleavy, Neil Banta, Dave Brown and Meghan Kelly. Greenhill's Kirsten-led group will focus primarily on raising capital for third-party firms, although the unit will sometimes assist Greenhill's own private equity operations.

EATON VANCE VET JOINS NEW ALTERNATIVES FIRM
James Hawkes, former chairman and chief executive of investment manager Eaton Vance, has joined the board of New York-based alternative investment firm Central Park Group. Central Park co-founder Greg Brousseau said that under Hawkes' 11 years of leadership, Eaton Vance developed “a lot of innovative products and solutions” while assets under management grew from $17 billion to $160 billion. Hawkes will join other Central Park board members including Kenneth Whitney, senior managing director at The Blackstone Group, and Steven Guterman, head of business development at asset manager AIG Investments. “We use them as a sounding board,” said Brousseau. “For a small company, we've got a lot of intellectual fire power.”

ONTARIO TAPS FORMER US AIRWAYS CEO AS FIRST ADVISOR
Former US Airways president Rakesh Gangwal has joined the $17 billion (€26 billion) Teachers' Private Capital as a senior advisor – the first in a series of hires Teachers' plans to make. Gangwal will be based in New York and responsible for sourcing and evaluating technology and business services transactions for the private equity division of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. He was previously chairman, president and chief executive of travel technologies company Worldspan Technologies, before which he led US Airways Group for five years and held senior positions at Air France and United Airlines. Gangwal is the first in a network of advisors comprised of executive business leaders Teachers' is working to establish to beef up its operational expertise, according to a spokeswoman.

SCHRODERS HIRES HEAD OF US PRIVATE EQUITY OPERATIONS
Schroders, a UK-based asset management company, has appointed commodities specialist Eric Nelson to help launch its US private equity operations, which should open sometime in the next 24 months. The private equity direct investment platform will be part of Schroder Investment Management Group, with the firm's UK investment team managing US operations remotely. Schroders' private equity background extends to the 1983 establishment of Schroder Ventures, now known as Permira, and Schroder Ventures International Investment Trust, now SVG Capital. The firm currently has $3 billion (€1.9 billion) in private equity assets under management, said Allen.

CORRECTION
In the June 2008 edition of Private Equity International, we ran a feature called “Initiators of Change”. Within this feature, the entry for Robert Herz of the Financial Standards Accounting Board (FASB) claimed that American Capital Strategies had reported a loss of $813 million in the first quarter of this year as a result of implementing fair value accounting. In fact, the loss was $180 million. We would like to apologise for the error.