Sphere of Influence: Runs one of the most active lending shops in the middle market, co-chairs the annual ACG Los Angeles Business Conference and serves as vice chair of the SBIA
Jeri Harman’s career is a three-legged stool: One leg involves external, high-level activities, such as chairing industry conferences; another leg is working on transactions, in which she is supported by a team; and the third leg is internal management of the firm she founded in 2009. Recently Avante provided debt and equity co-investment in the sale of Learners Edge to L Squared Capital Partners. The firm’s second fund raised $250 million in investments, which the firm has begun to to deploy.
Based in Los Angeles, Avante’s primary business is to provide mezzanine loans to middle-market companies, and the firm also co-invests in some transactions. The firm completed 19 deals out of its first fund, which closed with $218 million in 2012. Avante completed its final deal from the first fund in July 2015, when it provided a loan and equity co-investment to support Chicago private equity firm New Harbour Capital’s acquisition of Community Psychiatry Management LLC, a Sacramento, California-based behavioral health company.
“We not only like the management and performance, but we also like the macro trend in that business where there is a lot of tailwind due to the Affordable Care Act and some unique supply and demand factors,” Harman says. “There’s a shortage of psychiatrists, which helps keep rates up,” she adds. Plus, psychiatry is working its way into mainstream acceptance by the public.
Among the deals Avante previously closed is the unitranche loan and equity co-investment to support Newton Square, Pennsylvania-based private equity firm Inverness Graham Investments’ acquisition of the Global ID Group, a Fairfield, Iowa-based business that provides testing and certification services regarding food safety, quality and authenticity issues, including the presence of gluten and genetically modified organisms (GMO). The deal, which closed in late 2013, underscores increased interest on the part of consumers and private equity firms in healthy eating over recent years.
In addition to her work at Avante, Harman is a networking superpower. She’s been involved with ACG LA since the mid-1990s and with the SBIA since 2009.