Littlejohn is latest to get into distress

Greenwich, Connecticut-based Littlejohn & Co. has brought on two distressed vets to spearhead the group’s new focus on the asset class. The firm is just the latest of a growing number of firms to build distressed capabilities.

Add Littlejohn & Co. to the crowd of private equity groups in line to pursue distress. The firm announced the hiring of Oaktree Capital Management vet Robert Davis and Ramius Capital Group’s Richard Maybaum to head the new group at the firm.

For Davis, the appointment represents a return to special situation investing. At Oaktree, Davis had led the group’s mezzanine practice as a managing director, spearheading its $808 million mezz fund. He joined Oaktree from Halcyon Asset Management, where he was responsible for the firm’s distressed investments, and before that he had the same focus while employed at Prudential Insurance and Oppenheimer & Co.

Maybaum comes to Littlejohn with similar credentials in the distressed space. He had joined Ramius in 2003, and managed the firm’s distressed securities and structure arbitrage portfolios, which had $500 million and $600 million of committed capital, respectively. Prior to that Maybaum had served as a managing director at Bass Family-affiliated hedge fund Talek Investments, where he co-managed $500 million that was dedicated toward distressed and high-yield investments.

The firm couldn’t comment on the hirings, but there is expected to be a separate distressed fund raised through which the pair will invest. There has been no word yet as to whether there will be more people brought on for the effort.

The news follows similar disclosures from other firms, as a number of groups in the private equity market appear to be anticipating a rush of distressed opportunities. Less than two weeks ago, Evercore Partners announced the hiring of Miller Buckfire vet David Ying and JP Morgan’s former head of distress Bill Repco, who will together co-head the firm’s new distressed operations. Meanwhile, other groups such as Onex Partners, The Blackstone Group and HIG Capital have either embarked on establishing distressed operations or have already raised a distressed vehicle through which to invest.

A spokesman for Littlejohn could not comment on how large of a fund the firm will look to raise, and no disclosures were made regarding the time frame by which the firm expects to have capital committed to the effort.

The new group will operate out of Littlejohn’s headquarters in Greenwich Connecticut.

The firm was founded in 1996, when Angus Littlejohn broke off from his former firm, New York-based Joseph, Littlejohn & Levy, to launch Littlejohn & Co.