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Taj Clayton and Nicole Washington, Partners at Kirkland & Ellis, Advise Ariel Alternatives on Inaugural $1.45 Billion

Feb 13, 2023

Photos Courtesy of Brandy Merriweather //via BStarPR Ariel Alternatives, LLC (“Ariel Alternatives” or the “firm”), announced last week the closing of Project Black, LP (“Project Black” or the “Fund”). Project Black is the first private equity initiative of Ariel Investments, LLC (“Ariel”), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The Fund seeks to invest in middle-market companies that may not currently be minority-owned, as well as existing Black- or Latino/a-owned businesses, with $100 million to $1 billion in revenue. Under the Fund’s ownership, these companies are expected to be transformed into certified minority business enterprises of scale that can serve as Tier 1 suppliers1 to the Fortune 500. Ariel Alternatives aims to forge partnerships between its network of the world’s largest corporations and its portfolio companies. Project Black will leverage $1.45 billion in commitments from its limited partners and co-investors spanning the consumer retail, energy and infrastructure, financial services, healthcare, sovereign and private wealth, and technology sectors. Each investor has committed $100-$200 million over the fund’s nominal seven-year investment period. In addition to Project Black’s $1.45 billion in commitments, JPMorgan Chase & Co. intends to co-invest up to $200 million alongside the Fund in future deals. Leslie A. Brun, Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO of Ariel Alternatives, commented: “We chose to partner with large institutions that are seeking to drive widespread corporate vendor diversity. Our goal is to help close the racial wealth gap by creating minority-owned businesses of scale through access to both capital and customers.” Mellody Hobson, Co-Founder of Ariel Alternatives and Co-CEO & President of Ariel Investments, continued: “We are scaling change. In so doing, we will redefine what it means to be a minority-owned business in the United States. We are grateful to our investors who share our mission.”  “I’m really proud of this deal and the important work that Mellody Hobson, John Rogers, Les Brun, and Charles Corpening are doing at Ariel. It has been an honor to work with my talented partners to make this materialize,” said Taj Clayton. The Fund’s limited partners and co-investors include: AmerisourceBergen Corporation Qatar Investment Authority


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