Martin to leave co-CEO role at Antares, leaving Brackett as sole chief

John Martin will leave David Brackett’s side after 35 years in business together. Another founding partner had exited the business in November.

A leader of one of the older mid-market sponsor finance businesses is stepping down, leaving one person at the helm.

Antares Capital co-chief executive John Martin is retiring, making his fellow co-CEO David Brackett the sole leader of the Chicago-based firm. The two men met in the early 1980s and have worked together since.

“I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching over the last couple months. I’ve had more conversations with my wife. We have a lot of things we want to do in life,” Martin said, adding he’s never taken a two-week vacation in his working life. He said he plans to travel and play more golf.

Brackett said he won’t have a large change in his day-to-day job, noting that he oversees the same employees Martin does. The biggest difference will be not working with Martin, Brackett said, explaining that they met in a training program for Continental Bank in 1982.

The firm has seen several senior personnel changes in recent months. Antares saw another founding partner leave in November, as Private Debt Investor reported last month. Top dealmaker and senior managing director Eric Hansen’s departure was part of a mutual agreement with the company.

Separately, another senior managing director, Chet Zara, departed the firm in February of last year. Following that, Antares named two new division heads, appointing Vivek Mathew to head of asset management and funding and Timothy Lyne to co-head of sponsor coverage with a focus on the East Coast.

Martin, Brackett and 10 other individuals were the founding team of Antares in 1996. GE Capital bought the firm in 2005 and was part of the conglomerate until 2015 when GE began dismantling parts of its finance business due to regulatory burden.

In 2016, the firm sold a minority stake to Northleaf Capital Partners as part of a partnership with the Toronto-based private equity firm that launched a private credit arm. As part of the relationship, Antares gained introductions to Canadian pension plans from Northleaf, and Northleaf gained access to Antares’ origination pipeline.

In tandem with his departure, the Antares board of directors is making $50,000 donations to two non-profit organizations: Midtown Education Foundation, a Chicago education advocacy group for which Martin serves on the board, and Folds of Honor, an organization which Martin has said he admires that provides educational scholarships for military spouses and children.