FFA Miami Day 1: FFA attendance explodes; Breaking NAV market news

The Fund Finance Association's annual Global Symposium saw registration growth explode; We report on two breaking news stories in the NAV market.

Some 1,400 are expected to attend the 12th annual Global Fund Finance Symposium in Miami Beach this week – a nearly 65 percent increase over last year’s attendance. In comparison, the Fund Finance Association’s symposiums in Miami, London and Singapore had a combined attendance of some 1700, across 500 organizations, in 2022.

So explosive was the growth in interest this year that the Fund Finance Association, which hosts the event, had to cut off registrations some two weeks early, having sold out.

There are even rumors that the gathering may have outgrown the Fontainebleau hotel. Perhaps we’ll be writing this blog from Las Vegas, the most natural setting for large conferences, next year?

FFA reports that the increase is driven by interest from all corners of the market, bank and non-bank lenders, borrowers, law firms and more.

But my guess is that it’s new and prospective entrants, whether borrower, lender or service provider, into the NAV market that comprise a meaningful portion of the increase, as well as those increasing their bets on that market. While the subscription credit line market experiences fluctuations in lender interest and activity under uncertain and adverse market conditions (not to mention balance sheet limitations at some bank lenders), NAV financing continues to grow. That’s in large part because managers expect longer and longer hold times under these market conditions, which bring boosting demand for financings that they can deploy at the portfolio level to manage their distributed to paid-in capital ratio, or to get dividends back to investors more quickly (IRR management).

Speaking of NAV, Private Funds CFO brings you some breaking news on the NAV front. Last year, from the FFA’s European Symposium in London, we reported that 17Capital managing directors Richard Golaszewski and Stephen Swentzel left the firm. They may be about to resurface. The two are said to be in the running to head up the launch of a potential NAV platform at investment firm Hunter Point Capital, we reported last night (more details at privatefundscfo.com, where you can register with a business email to read limited articles for free).

And over in Europe, Pemberton Asset Management (which launched its own NAV shop last year, spearheaded by group head Thomas Doyle, also formerly of 17Capital) is bringing on former JPMorgan executive Pavol Popp as portfolio manager.

The developments follow the entrance of HPS Investment Partners into the market, as well. The firm hired away two experts from Goldman Sachs: managing director James Lumby in November last year and executive director Tod Hopper more recently. Investec’s Ian Weise jumped over to join former colleague Matt Hansford at MassMutual, which launched its own platform in 2022, I reported from last year’s Miami conference.

The conference kicked off last night with a drinks reception at the Fontainebleau, sponsored by Carey Olsen, Cadwalader and KBRA. A closing reception on Friday will also be held by Reed Smith at the hotel. (And of course, there will be parties Thursday night… word is that among them will be Macquarie hosting at Soho Beach House.)

We’ll be covering some of tomorrow’s and Friday’s panel sessions, which include a discussion of geopolitics with economist Pippa Malmgren and a fireside chat with superstar investor Barry Sternlicht of Starwood Capital on Thursday and a keynote address by Mohamed El-Erian on Friday.

So keep an eye out for our blog tomorrow. And have a great Symposium!