Jordan Co. eyes Vietnam; Groupon director touts Dropbox

By Becky Yerak
Posted Feb. 9 at 5:19 p.m.

Jordan Co., the private equity firm run by Chicago businessman John “Jay” Jordan, already does business in more than 30 countries, but is planning to re-enter India and is looking at investments in Vietnam.

Jordan, who serves on the boards of Lyric Opera and the Art Institute of Chicago and is a trustee of the University of Notre Dame, also told the Kellogg School of Management Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference on Wednesday that he expects 2011 and 2012 to be “extremely active years” for both buying and selling businesses, following a “fairly robust” 2010 but a “very slow” 2009.

Other speakers at the morning sessions of the daylong event included Kevin Efrusy, general partner for Groupon investor Accel Partners, and Steven Brown, partner at Chicago-based CHS Capital, previously known as Code Hennessy & Simmons.

Jordan, who was born and bred in Kansas City, Mo., told the gathering at Chicago’s University Club that his firm, which he founded in 1982, has been running businesses in China for 20 years and typically owns 100 percent of them. He also said his firm often installs its own managers at the Chinese firms that it buys, saying it’s wary of potential corruption.

Jordan’s company also likes the energy services business. But he sounded happy that his firm, where he’s chairman and managing principal, hasn’t placed a big bet on for-profit colleges, as some other private equity firms have.

“The government is trying to destroy for-profit education,” he said, echoing the sentiments of industry brethren with portfolio companies in the sector.

Jordan last year received a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Corporate Growth Chicago. His firm is headquartered in New York but has offices in Chicago and Shanghai.

Speaking before Jordan was Accel’s Efrusy, who sits on Groupon’s board of directors. He said New Enterprise Associates was the first institutional investor in Chicago-based Groupon, with Accel taking a stake in late 2009. Efrusy credited Accel’s Andrew Braccia with bringing Groupon to the attention of his venture capital firm.

Efrusy wouldn’t confirm whether or why Groupon rejected a $6 billion takeover offer. But, generally speaking, he said that thriving firms often underestimate themselves.

He also dropped the name of Dropbox as an Accel portfolio company that will likely become a bigger name. Dropbox enables people to store, sync and share files online.

But, Efrusy added, “Serendipity plays a huge part in our business. Lightning does strike.”

Steven Brown, a partner of Chicago-based private equity firm CHS Capital, was part of a panel discussion late in the morning. He said the firm’s deal volume was up more than 40 percent in 2010, but noted that there are more buyers competing for deals these days. He also said that later this year CHS will begin raising its sixth fund; its fifth fund was $1.3 billion.

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One comment:

  1. fred Feb. 9 at 5:42 pm

    If you want to give dropbox a try, feel free to use my referral link. You’ll get an additional 250 MB… and so will I :-)