The Washington Post

Firm invests greenbacks in ‘green’ living

Thanasis Delistathis knew there was money to be made in the market for sustainable goods when a friend who was shopping for a patio set would not look at anything that didn’t have “green” materials.

“We really bought into the vision that there is a large group of consumers who care about ‘green’ living,” said Delistathis, who is the co-founder of New Atlantic Ventures, the Tysons Corner-based venture capital company. “They go out of their way to find green goods.”

New Atlantic is now leading a $4.5 million investment in Bambeco, a Baltimore-based start-up that sells sustainable home furnishings.

“We did it for two reasons,” Delistathis said. “First, [Bambeco chief executive] Susan Alpin has a lot of experience in e-commerce, including [at] Williams-Sonoma.” Second is the firm’s belief that green demand is real.

Bambeco was launched on Earth Day four years ago, and sells funky stuff such as Adirondack chairs made from recycled detergent bottles, chemical-free fiber rugs and recycled glassware.

The Maryland Venture Fund and a group of environmentally conscious angel investors have joined New Atlantic in the investment.

New Atlantic has been on a hot streak. It recently announced the sale of Global Logic to London-based Apex Partners, which reportedly reaped a $420 million sale price, which brought New Atlantic $73 million on its $4.9 million investment.

That’s the biggest home run in the VC firm’s history.

Delistathis would not comment on the price.

The big 5-0

About 160 close friends of Tammy and Terry Darvish surprised the twins on their 50th birthday at the Society of the Cincinnati headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue NW Oct. 28.

Tammy is vice president of Darcars Automotive Group, one of the biggest privately owned dealerships in the country.

Business bigwigs included Greater Washington Board of Trade chief executive Jim Dinegar; Kane Cos. owner John Kane; SunTrust D.C. President and Board of Trade Chairman J. Scott Wilfong ; Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.); Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker; Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett; Montgomery County Council Member George Leventhal; and former Montgomery County congresswoman Connie Morella.

Chatter ranged from the flailing Washington Redskins to the campaign setbacks of Maryland gubernatorial hopeful (and current attorney general) Doug Gansler.

Low expectations

Rebecca H. Patterson, chief investment officer at Bessemer Trust, was in the District at the Metropolitan Club on Oct. 29, where she assessed the investment landscape for more than 40 area clients and would-be clients.

So what would a Capitol Hill grand bargain, or even a mini-bargain on the federal budget, mean for the stock market?

“When we think about what could lead U.S. equities higher into next year, one possible catalyst is Washington. Right now, Wall Street has pretty low expectations. No one expects compromise on fiscal issues. If we actually saw politicians reaching any kind of bipartisan deal before a deadline was at hand, that would be a pretty positive surprise for investors. “

Bessemer manages nearly $90 billion for some 2,200 clients.

You must have at least $10 million for them to manage.

The Buzz hears:

District-based private equity firm Halifax Group said one of its portfolio companies, pet food and supply distributor Animal Supply Co., completed three acquisitions in recent months. It bought California-based Pet Food Wholesale in July, Minnesota-based RFG Distributing in September and Florida-based Elf Pet Products in September. Terms were not disclosed.

Halifax Group is led by David W. Dupree, who co-founded the private equity firm in 1999 with William L. Rogers; Thomas J. Barrack Jr., chairman of Colony Capital; and David Bonderman, founder and principal of TPG.

On notice

Falls Church-based Computer Sciences Corp. said last week that an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation appears to be heating up, according to a recent SEC filing.

The SEC has long been investigating accounting errors in CSC’s managed services sector, primarily involving accounting irregularities in the Nordic region. The SEC is also investigating prior disclosures of CSC’s contract with Britain’s National Health Service.

Now, the SEC has issued letters to the company requesting more information, and issued what’s known as Wells notices to some former CSC executives in the United States, according to staff writer Marjorie Censer. A Wells notice, the company’s SEC filing explains, is not a formal finding of wrongdoing, but is a preliminary determination by the SEC enforcement staff recommending that the SEC Commission file an enforcement action. A recipient can respond with a submission arguing against such an action, according to the filing.

“The company is unable to predict how long the SEC process will last or its possible outcome,” the filing added.

Carlyle watch:

The private equity giant may be a bit blue following the initial public offering of CommScope, maker of cables used in communications infrastructure, which priced at $15 on its first day of trading on Oct. 24. That is well below the $18 to $21 that the Carlyle Group was hoping for. On a happier note, Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman received a standing ovation at the TEDx conference at the Sidney Harman Hall in the District on Oct. 26th. Ullman, who is a world champion whistler and has a book proposal now under consideration by several publishers, spoke about happiness, and told of his big performances (“The Tonight Show,” for President George W. Bush and for the president of the Bank of China, among others). He also whistled “Take the A Train” and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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