NEW YORK — Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. has closed a $1.5 billion institutional merchant banking fund, which included a commitment of more than $500 million from Bear Stearns. The fund — Bear Stearns Merchant Banking Partners II LP (MBPII) — invests in private equity capital, including leveraged buyouts, recapitalization and growth opportunities.

The company’s merchant banking group has invested in 26 portfolio companies through its first two funds. The group’s first merchant portfolio fund preceding MBP II has generated an 80% internal rate of return.