David Knowlton has had a career spanning more than four decades in mergers & acquisitions, merchant banking and private equity, and is a trusted advisor to CEOs, boards of directors, and global institutional investors. Mr. Knowlton founded Three Ocean Partners in 2011 to source creative, proprietary investment opportunities and provide a high level of discretion and individualized attention to longstanding clients.
Three Ocean is David Knowlton’s second successful advisory and investment firm, as he previously founded and ran Watch Hill Partners from 2003 to 2009, before the firm was acquired by FBR & Co. Watch Hill Partners advised on over $30 billion of assignments and made several highly successful merchant banking investments. The senior partners of Watch Hill Parmers had a combined 200 years of investment banking experience, and together had advised on transactions totaling over $100 billion.
David Knowlton began the formative part of his career with a fellowship on the Joint Economic Committee in Washington, DC, and later joined Manufacturers Hanover Trust in 1980. He held a number of positions in multinational client management and oil and gas industry lending before joining MHT’s Acquisition Finance Group in 1985. After the mergers with both Chemical Bank and Chase Manhattan Bank, Mr. Knowlton continued his position as Managing Director in Acquisition Finance, generating ideas for financial sponsor clients, co-investing with them and providing them with high yield and bank financing.
In 1997, Mr. Knowlton was hired to establish and run Gleacher & Company’s financial sponsor efforts, as Managing Director of North American Investment Banking, and generated over $100 million for the firm within 18 months of inception. Mr. Knowlton repeated this success as Head of Acquisition Finance for NatWest Markets, the U.S. M&A and merchant banking arm of NatWest.
Mr. Knowlton is a graduate of Kenyon College and has served as both a trustee and head of Kenyon’s national capital campaign. He recently served on the board of Easterly Acquisition Corp., a publicly-traded special purpose corporation, and is currently on the board of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mr. Knowlton and his wife reside in New York City with their four children.