Z Capital Partners Supports Private Equity Education

February 19, 2012 By unc kenan-flagler

UNC Kenan-Flagler recently received a $100,000 grant from Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. and James J. Zenni, Jr., its president and chief executive officer, to support private equity education for MBA and undergraduate business students.

Z Capital is a private equity firm that invests in distressed companies and participates in improving their operations and financial position.  The firm recently made major investments in Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, Neways Enterprises and Real Mex Restaurants.

“We are pleased to support private equity education at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School,” Zenni said. “As private equity becomes an increasingly important part of the U.S. and global economies, it is imperative that business students have access to hands-on education experiences, as well as opportunities to network with established and up-and-coming professionals in the sector. The outstanding faculty and staff at UNC Kenan-Flagler are well-qualified to implement and ultimately expand these exciting programs.”

Business students seeking careers in the private equity industry will be selected by faculty and student leaders to participate in the programs supported by the gift.

“This important gift from Jim Zenni and Z Capital is critical support for UNC Kenan-Flagler students interested in private equity,” said finance professor Gregory W. Brown. “The diverse and applied nature of the private equity industry means that interaction with professionals in the field is vital for students. This support allows us to provide interaction in a variety of ways, all of which foster richer educational experiences and better career opportunities for our students.”

The three-year grant will support:

  • Experiential learning in private equity. Students’ opportunities to interact with private equity professionals will include:
    • A “Private Equity Career Trek” to visit firms in New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston and Charlotte 
    • Active on-campus relationship building that will include hosting industry experts to discuss aspects of the private equity business and career paths for students
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Alternative Investments Conference (AIC). The student-run AIC brings together leading practitioners, academic researchers and students for a day-long event in Chapel Hill. Proceeds from the conference support the Alternative Investment Fellowship (AIF) program for UNC Kenan-Flagler students by providing small stipends for those undertaking internships with small alternative investment firms. For information, visit
  • A new private equity education database. Development of a database that will create an important alumni network by cataloging the private equity activities of alumni, faculty, staff and supporters of the school.  This will allow for direct interaction between individuals and firms and for the use of information in the database for case studies and other educational purposes.


Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. is a leading, privately held Chicago-based middle market private equity firm that specializes in repairing the capital structures and optimizing the assets of distressed/challenged companies. Industries of interest include, but are not limited to, consumer products, steel, steel processors, agricultural, gaming, leisure/real estate, manufacturing, specialty services and automotive. Z Capital’s investors include prominent global endowments, financial institutions, pension funds, insurance companies, foundations, family offices, and wealth management firms. For more information, please visit