Ariel Investments, the asset manager founded by value investor John Rogers, is joining JPMorgan Chase in a strategic initiative aimed at turning minority-owned businesses into multibillion-dollar companies. The fund will be the first for a private equity arm being launched by the asset manager, called Ariel Alternatives. Acting as a co-investor, JPMorgan is making a funding commitment of $200m.

Chicago-based Ariel, one of the few large black-owned investment companies in the US, sees the fund as a way to “scale sustainable minority-owned businesses”, particularly by positioning middle-market companies as “leading suppliers to Fortune 500 companies”.

The effort, called “Project Black,” will be run by Ariel’s co-chief executive Mellody Hobson and Leslie Brun of Sarr Group. Rogers, who is also co-CEO of Ariel and served as co-chair of Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inaugural committee, will be an adviser.

Project Black will invest in companies with $100m-$1bn in revenue and will initially pursue six to 10 deals with a focus on healthcare, media and marketing, outsourcing, manufacturing and packaging, technology, transportation and logistics and financial and professional services.


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Source: Financial Times

By James Fontanella-Khan and Michael Mackenzie