Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bankrolling Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The homeland security business has been good to Washington's Paladin Capital Group. The private equity shop closed its $235 million Homeland Security Fund in 2004. Michael Steed, Paladin's founder and managing partner, says that once that fund is fully invested, the firm’s logical next step is to put together another one.

"This is not a passing fad," says Steed, 57, noting that he sees pitches for around ten prospective investments each week.

What's behind Paladin's good fortunes? In a terror-obsessed world, having some marquee intelligence and ex-military names among the firm's managing directors doesn't hurt. One notable: R. James Woolsey, present partner at Booz Allen Hamilton and director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995.

But Paladin also benefits from taking an expansive view of homeland security. Terrorists, Steed suggests, want to do two things: Kill people and attack infrastructure to wreak maximum economic havoc. Under the rubric of critical infrastructure, Steed includes transportation systems, food systems, pipelines, water, electricity, the Internet, financial networks and communications. "Anything that moves," he says.

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