Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Former Carolina Panther's private equity firm still in the market

It's been a relatively quiet last two years for Axum Capital Partners, the private equity firm co-founded by former Carolina Panther Muhsin Muhammad. But the company is still actively in the market looking for deals, the man who spent 14 years at wide receiver.

We caught up with the popular Pro Bowler on Wednesday as his firm's first and, at the moment, only portfolio company prepares to sponsor a high-profile high school basketball tournament in Charlotte later this month. He said he hopes the Wild Wing Cafe name on that event will help propel the restaurant chain to iconic status in the area. You can read more about the tournament and Wild Wing Cafe's growth strategy here.

But we also had a chance to catch up about Axum Capital Partners and talk about what's been going on with the firm since acquiring Wild Wing Cafe nearly two years ago.

Axum Capital once had ambitions of raising a large fund to make acquisitions. Directors had originally targeted $150 million to acquire lower-middle-market companies in the food and beverage and education sectors. But as the opportunity arose to acquire Wild Wing Cafe, Muhammad said Axum turned its attention toward closing the deal instead of raising more money.

The company's fund closed in September with about $15 million raised, according to a securities filing. Muhammad said Axum is still looking at a number of different investments, in companies in those original sectors.

Axum has also brought on board a number of high net worth individuals (read: wealthy people) and athletes as limited partners in the fund, Muhammad said.

He's also kept up with his former team this year, in what is proving to be a special season with echoes of Muhammad's penultimate year with the Panthers.

"They’re headed in a positive direction," the man often known on the field as Moose said of this year's squad. He called this past weekend's loss to New Orleans a setback, but a common one for successful teams over the course of a season. "The panthers have to bounce back like a team on destiny."
You might remember the 2008 Panthers team, the last to make the playoffs. The team finished 12-4, with Muhammad catching 65 passes for 923 yards and five touchdowns.

The current team's defense is better, but the '08 team ran the ball more effectively and had a more vertical passing game, he said.

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