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Obama’s ‘best friend’ raises millions for private equity fund

August 11, 2014, 4:48 PM UTC
President Barack Obama talks with his friend Marty Nesbitt at the Chicago Bulls vs Washington Wizards basketball during their game played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Friday, February 27, 2009. (Photo by Harry E. Walker/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
Photo by Harry E. Walker/MCT—Getty Images

President Obama spent much of the 2012 campaign railing against private equity and its poster boy, Mitt Romney. Now his close pal Marty Nesbitt is running a Chicago-based private equity firm that includes at least one former member of his Administration, and also has raised money from a public pension fund in Illinois.

Nesbitt is best-known for founding airport parking company The Parking Spot with current U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker (the company has since been sold), and for his decades-old friendship with Obama. Fortune first reported on his firm, called Vistria Group, back in January. Now we have some additional information:

1. Vistria has raised more than $148 million for its debut fund, according to an August 5 regulatory filing. That’s up from $103 million through the end of March.Investors include The Illinois Municipal Retirement System, which made a $5 million commitment.

2. The firm plans to invest in mid-market companies within the healthcare, education and financial services sectors. Target companies would have between $25 million and $500 million in revenue, and between $10 million and $50 million in EBITDA.

3. Nesbitt formed Vistria with Kip Kirkpatrick, the co-founder of Water Street Healthcare Partners who left in 2009 to run for Illinois treasurer (he dropped out of the race after just a couple of months). It now also includes Tony Miller, a veteran private equity investor who spent the past four-plus years as Obama’s Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Dept of Education. There also is talk that at least one other ex-Administration staffer has joined in recent weeks. Other partners include Philip Alphonse (ex-Sterling Partners) and Robert Parkinson III (ex-Hewitt EnnisKnupp).

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