4 Min Read
* Zannino sees opportunities to put capital to work
* CCMP has invested 26 pct of latest fund, of $3.4 bln
* Firm sees more retail investments ahead
(Adds quotes from Zannino, CCMP, bylines)
By Robert MacMillan and Megan Davies
NEW YORK, July 15 (Reuters) - Former Dow Jones chief Richard Zannino is returning to the retail and media worlds, joining a private equity company that wants to buy bankrupt outdoor clothing retailer Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc EBHIQ.PK.
Zannino will join CCMP Capital Advisors and help run its consumer, media and retailing practice, the private equity firm said on Wednesday.
Zannino ran Dow Jones after his tenure as a senior executive at Liz Claiborne Inc LIZ.N. He also was chief financial officer at Saks Fifth Avenue, and sits on the board of Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp IACI.O.
"Private equity felt very much like the natural next step for me," Zannino told Reuters, following a career that has spanned the industrial products, retail and media industries and focused on deals, strategy, finance and operations.
CCMP, which was spun out of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) in 2006, has capital to commit to deals, after having invested just 26 percent of its latest fund of $3.4 billion. Zannino sees opportunities to put that capital to work.
"Every day you're seeing more and more distressed good companies with bad balance sheets -- companies with compelling reasons to sell," Zannino said.
Zannino said he was attracted to CCMP because of its "disciplined investment approach".
"CCMP ... have been net sellers over the last couple of years -- they've sold $6 billion of companies and bought only a billion through that frothy high-multiple market," he said.
Though Zannino's experience is in the retail sector, he gained notoriety in the media world for being the CEO who, as many of his former employees put it, sold Dow Jones & Co and The Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA.O) in 2007.
He quit soon after Murdoch took over.
Many Journal workers and members of the Bancroft family that controlled Dow Jones resented Zannino for selling the venerable, family-owned operation. News Corp's $5 billion bid for the company came at a 65 percent premium to the price at which Dow Jones shares were trading in 2007.
That was an offer that shareholders and the Bancrofts found impossible to refuse.
CCMP Chairman Greg Brenneman said Zannino is a "seasoned operating professional" and has a "successful track record of driving business transformation and performance."
The most attractive media investments would have content with indispensable appeal and be conveniently accessible to customers, and there would be an ability to charge for that content, Zannino said.
CCMP also sees retail investment opportunities and is working on a retail project now -- it has bid $202 million to buy Eddie Bauer. [ID:nN17347497]
"We see great opportunities in (the retail) market today, as evidenced by what we're doing with Eddie Bauer," said CCMP Managing Director & Head of Investor Relations Jonathan Lynch said. "There will be more of that." (Additional reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Matt Daily)