Chickasaw Nation Taps Hicks Equity Partners Exec To Lead Pennington Creek Dallas Office

Longtime Hicks Equity Partners Managing Director Curt Crofford will lead the new office. He sees Chickasaw Nation's 'patient, long-term capital' as a compelling alternative to short-term private equity.

The Chickasaw Nation has established Pennington Creek Capital, a private capital investment firm, and plans to open an investment office in Dallas led by longtime Hicks Equity Partners Managing Director Curt Crofford.

Dan Boren, chairman of the investment firm and secretary of commerce for the Chickasaw Nation, announced the appointment.

“With Curt’s three decades of diverse investment experience globally and his extensive relationships nationally, we are confident he will be instrumental in executing our investment strategy and opening new opportunities,” Boren said in a statement.

The new office, coupled with the recent launch of Good Springs Capital in mid-2023, continues the expansion of the Chickasaw Nation’s diversification efforts.

Crofford comes to Pennington Creek Capital, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sovereign Native Holdco, to expand its reach and accelerate the firm’s strategy of investing in promising middle market companies with strong cash flow characteristics led by ambitious founders and visionary entrepreneurs with high potential for growth and a strong market position.

“Through selective investments in established enterprises with solid leadership and strong values, Sovereign Native Holdco has driven economic expansion and growth for companies while generating returns we can use to deliver quality programs and services for the betterment and advancement of our citizens and the communities we serve,” Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said in a statement.

Success in identifying key investments

Crofford began his career working in high-yield bond trading at Bankers Trust in New York before joining Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in New York and London, England.

There, he wrote equity research on companies for potential investments and assisted in common stock offerings and high yield bond deals. While in England with DLJ and DKW, Crofford traveled across Europe to meet with institutional investors before returning to the U.S. to earn his MBA at Duke University, the firm said.

For the past 19 years, Crofford has executed, managed, and overseen a broad investment mandate in the private equity investing group of the Thomas O. Hicks family office, Pennington Creek said. There, the firm said that Crofford identified selective investments ranging from $10 million to $100 million in middle market companies ranging in value from $30 million to $500 million. He focused on specialty manufacturing, commercial aerospace and defense, food and beverage, software, oil and gas, and distribution companies.

“Curt’s notable success in identifying and leading significant investments will bring a fresh perspective and energy to our firm,” Boren said. “We’re excited to have him on board and look forward to what lies ahead.”

‘Patient, long-term capital’

Crofford said he looks forward to his role at Pennington Creek and being “focused on investing with greater purpose, namely, to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people,.”

“Additionally, I’ve admired the Chickasaw Nation’s business acumen for many years, and I have profound respect for the leadership of Governor Anoatubby and Secretary Boren,” Crofford added in a statement. “I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my career. I believe strongly that the patient, long-term capital of the Chickasaw Nation is a compelling alternative to the increasingly short hold periods of institutional private equity firms.”

With more than 80,000 citizens, the Chickasaw Nation is a democratic republic with executive, legislative, and judicial departments elected by its citizens. The treaty territory of the tribe includes 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma and encompasses all or parts of 13 Oklahoma counties.

According to the Chickasaw Nation, it contributes billions to the Oklahoma economy annually and employs nearly 14,000 workers. Business revenues are the primary source for funding more than 200 tribal programs and services, such as health care, housing, and education for Chickasaw citizens and First Americans.

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