FRONTLINE

News on professional service providers to the private equity market

BerchWood poaches MVision analyst
BerchWood Partners, a leading global private equity placement agent, has added Alexander Chaplin as an associate in its London office. Prior to joining BerchWood, Alex was an analyst at MVision Private Equity Advisers, where he worked on all aspects of fundraising and brings experience of working with venture capital, growth, buyout, infrastructure, and sector-focused fund managers in western Europe and the emerging markets. In addition, he was involved in reviewing fund opportunities, maintaining investor dialogue and conducting investor and market research. In the past twelve months, BerchWood has added three private equity professionals to its London and New York offices, in order to meet the needs of its growing client base. The firm has further expansion plans, which include establishing an office in Asia.

RSM McGladrey bolstering due diligence
RSM McGladrey, a New York-based accounting, tax and business consulting firm, is now offering sell-side due diligence and working capital due diligence services to private equity clients. The firm said that in the current market, improved sell-side due diligence will help maximise the sale price of a business in part by eliminating surprises and reducing the time it takes to close, while the firm's working capital services include target establishment, review of draft purchase agreements prior to closing and analysis of net working capital. RSM McGladrey has completed more than 250 assignments in the fiscal year 2008, and works closely with McGladrey Capital Markets, a global provider of investment banking services to the middle market. MCM works with companies with revenues of up to $1 billion on mergers and acquisitions, divestures, recapitalisations and restructurings.

Lazard appoints new managing director
Financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard will add Timothy Pohl to its Chicago office as managing director of the firm's restructuring group, effective 7 January 2009. Pohl, who previously helped lead the 100-plus attorney restructuring practice of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, will help expand both the Chicago and global restructuring teams. While at Skadden, Pohl led restructurings for Meridian Technologies, Krispy Kreme and Vera Sun Energy. Lazard operates in 41 cities in 24 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Asutralia and Central and South America, providing advice on mergers and acquisitions, capital raising and restructuring. It recently signed an agreement to acquire the outstanding equity units of Lazard Asset Management, which manages more than $134 billion worth of client assets and which recently launched a new emerging markets mutual fund.

NAI Bluestone moves into distressed real estate
NAI Bluestone Real Estate Capital, a Philadelphia-based real estate investment and advisory firm, has launched a distressed real estate consulting group in response to the recent market turbulence. The new Asset Resolution Group will provide advisory services to lenders, borrowers, financial institutions and other entities handling default loans or loan portfolios. Such services include asset valuation, income approach and replacement cost and strategic planning, while the group will also generate purchase and financing offers for real estate companies. Bluestone Real Estate Capital recently teamed with New Jerseybased NAI Global, a managed network of commercial real estate firms, which has offices in 55 countries and completes over $45 billion in transactions annually. NAI also recently formed an alliance with Bedford Cost Segregation and opened new of-fices in Costa Rica, Taiwan and Las Vegas.

Singapore's Sirius appoints new director
Singapore-based growth capital advisor and finance advisory firm Sirius Venture Consulting has appointed Samuel Siaw as a new director with a focus on developing the firm's entrepreneurial consulting business. Sirius, along with its associated companies known as the Sirius Group, focuses on investments in small- and medium-sized companies in Singapore and overseas. Siaw had previously served as a director for Moore Stephens, where he worked on companies' audits, IPO engagements and due diligence, and worked in Singapore for KPMG. The Sirius Group manages two funds, the $30 million Sirius SME Growth Partners I Fund and the $20 million Sirius Angel Fund in collaboration with SPRING Singapore, a government agency responsible for promoting SMEs in the country. The agency has said that SMEs accounted for 42 percent of Singapore's GDP in 2006. Sirius Venture Consulting earlier this year opened its first office outside of Singapore in Japan.

RJD Partners completes refinancing of portfolio company IPES
UK middle market private equity firm RJD Partners has completed the debt refinancing of portfolio company IPES Holdings Limited, a provider of outsourced fund administration services. Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets has provided the new senior debt facilities of £10 million ($15 million; €11 million). In early September 2008, RJD fully underwrote the £25 million management buyout of IPES, combined with management reinvestment. IPES now administers over 300 funds for 65 separate client groups. Nine of the largest clients each have over €500 million in funds under management. RJD Partners and IPES were advised by DLA Piper (legal) and Carey Olsen (Guernsey legal). Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets was advised by Pinsent Masons (legal).

Close Brothers hires restructuring and debt advisory director
European corporate finance adviser Close Brothers has appointed a new director to its European restructuring and debt advisory group to focus on originating and executing debt advisory and restructuring mandates in the real estate sector. Luke MacKenzie joins Close Brothers from Richard Ellis (CBRE) where he has been since 2004. At CBRE he advised buyout groups participating in asset backed acquisitions; investment funds on equity raisings for real estate investments in the UK and Europe; and advised clients on the identification of direct property investments throughout Europe. Prior to CBRE, MacKenzie spent two years at venture capital firm Foundation Capital Partners and was previously at Morgan Stanley. MacKenzie is the fifth senior hire that Close Brothers has made in 2008, as part of the continued expansion of its European restructuring and debt advisory group. Close Brothers recently increased the number of senior personnel in the group through internal refocusing of resources in order to advise on the increasing volume of restructuring situations, as well as distressed M&A mandates.

Northern Trust ramps up data tools
Northern Trust has introduced new performance and analysis capabilities for clients investing in private equity, hedge funds and other alternative assets. New features include an expanded range of resources and functions available online to meet the unique needs of alternative assets investors, and specialised tools to assist limited partners in administering private equity portfolios. Northern Trust's online performance analysis tool, Fundamentals, now provides access to internal rate of return (IRR) measures and on-the-fly analysis of the funding status and growth of private markets assets, including private equity and real assets. Northern Trust has also strengthened the Private Monitor brand of premium private equity investor services with the deployment of Burgiss Group's Private i 5.0. Clients can track and analyse performance, and obtain ad hoc reports on various internal rate of return analyses, modified internal rate of return (under varied assumptions), funding and distribution ratios and benchmark internal rate of return analysis. In the Private Monitor suite, Northern also offers the Burgiss Group's browser-based application Private Informant, a “look-through” reporting of partnership company holdings.

Altium hires corporate broker, head of market making
European investment bank Altium has appointed Chloe Ponsonby to the corporate broking team and Craig Leppard to head of market making. Leppard will join in January 2009 from Numis, where he served as director of market making. He joined Numis in 2001 from Teathers. Ponsonby joins from Daniel Stewart & Co, where she was a senior member of the corporate broking team and head of new business development. Before, she was a fund manager at Jupiter Asset Management. The appointments follow those of Rob Jenkins, an equity salesman, Scott Stirling, a sales trader, Karl Green, a support services analyst and Katherine Hobbs, a corporate financier. The firm said it plans to continue adding staff. The firm recently completed Zeus Private Equity's secondary buyout of MJ Quinn Integrated Services.

Piper Jaffray adds to financial restructuring team
Investment bank Piper Jaffray has hired Victor Caruso for its financial restructuring team, as a managing director in the New York office. Most recently Caruso was a managing director at Morgan Joseph & Co., where he developed and implemented the firm's restructuring practice. He was previously a partner at Gordian Group, a managing director at Bear, Stearns & Co., and a founding member of the Lehman Brothers restructuring group. “With over 25 years of experience, Vic has significant financial restructuring capabilities with companies ranging from those in the middle market to the Fortune 500 across a broad range of industries and geographies,” said Murray Huneke, co-head of investment banking at Piper Jaffray. “His extensive background will allow us to expand our differentiated and integrated advisory strategy, which combines our strong advisory, restructuring and capital markets platforms to best serve our clients.”

Vantage strengthens emerging markets fund
Vantage Software, a US-based provider of software for private investment firms such as York Capital, Cerberus Capital Management and Boston Ventures, is supplying EMAlternatives with modular software to help the fund of fund manager build its emerging markets business. As part of such services, the Vantage Deal Manager software uses its deal database to capture the historical performance of fund managers and enables users to evaluate the value and performance of portfolio companies. EMAlternatives managing partner John Stephens said in a statement that the new IT platform would help the fund process deal flow better as it has multiple offices and wide-ranging investments. The Washington, DC-based investor focuses exclusively on markets outside of North America and Western Europe, covering primary, secondary and co-investment strategies, and recently opened its first Asia office in Shanghai. Vantage recently changed its name from Vantage Reporting and hired David Sayles as its new director of sales and client services.

Baker Tilly makes third appointment to southern corporate finance team
UK accountant and business advisor Baker Tilly has appointed Paul Lamacraft as an associate director in its southern region corporate finance team. His core focus will be mergers and acquisitions, with a particular geographical emphasis on the South West and Thames Valley. The appointment is the third for the M&A team in the last six months as it continues its expansion in the region, and comes on the back of three recent completions in the manufacturing, property and software sectors. Lamacraft joins Baker Tilly from Target Accountants, where he spent the last three years building the corporate finance offering across the South West and more recently the Thames Valley region. He has been involved in a number of M&A transactions including MBOs, acquisitions and trade sales of both private and publicly listed companies across the region. Prior to joining Target, Lamacraft spent four years with a global investment bank, initially in the healthcare team before transferring to M&A.