Minority-led IMB Partners looks to close debut fund with about $120 million

The Black American founder of IMB Partners, who earlier in his career co-founded one of the most successful minority-led firms before leaving in a high-profile falling-out, anticipates holding a final close of about $120 million on his debut fund as early as the end of the year.

“As we rounded into 2024 and people started to see us get closer to a close, the money started to get committed,” Tarrus Richardson, CEO of the Bethesda, Maryland-based firm, said last week at the 2024 New Jersey Private Market Emerging Managers Symposium. “And so now we’re at this momentum stage of being able to be over our target and heading towards our cap.”

During his breakout panel Richardson spoke about how early investors in his fund helped attract additional capital by making introductions and supplying references, mentioning Barings specifically. Barings manages a $250 million emerging managers program for New Jersey State Investment Council.

The Fundraise: IMB Partners, which invests in utility and government contracting companies, has raised at least $47.3 million for its IMB Partners SBIC I LP fund, according to a regulatory filing from early July. The firm started raising the fund in 2022.

The Track Record: IMB Partners has at least nine platform companies, including Alder Foods, Ashburn Consulting, Carr & Duff, e&e Technical Consultants, eTelligent Group and Richmond Wholesale. During the panel Richardson pointed to several recent successes, including in 2022 selling a business for a 27x investment multiple. The firm, he said, is on track to sell one or two more companies for more than 10x multiples over the next few months. “As you demonstrate your work, the right investors will find you,” said Richardson.

The Founder: Richardson, who has worked in the PE industry for more than 25 years and is a founding member of the Council of Urban Professionals, founded IMB Partners in 2010 after serving as a managing director at buyout firm ICV Partners, which he co-founded in 1998. Richardson had previously served as an associate at JLL Partners, and he co-founded Gold Coast Securities in Accra, Ghana.

ICV Partners Breakup: Richardson’s 12 years at ICV Partners ended with his termination in 2010 after his falling out with a key investor. That led to a lawsuit and a settlement, as covered in a 2012 article by the New York Times and a 2016 article by Fortune. The Miami-based ICV Partners has targeted $750 million for its fifth fund, according to a Buyouts story earlier this year. We were unable to reach ICV Partners Co-founder Willie Woods for comment.

IMB Partners: Richardson set up IMB Partners with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and he pointed to “partnership” and “putting people first” as core values at the firm. The firm employs at least 16 people, including Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer Kelvin Pennington, whom Richardson described in the panel discussion as his mentor for more than 30 years and an early investor in his deals. “I wanted to build a business with him because I knew he had incredible investment judgement,” Richardson said.

We were unable to reach Richardson for comment by press time.