Alignment Capital changes focus(2)

After co-founder Craig Nickels left to manage the alternatives portfolio of Washington University, Texas consulting firm Alignment Capital has halted its operations and is looking for a new direction.

 Austin, Texas-based private equity consulting group Alignment Capital is revamping its business with the development of a new pilot project in the wake of the departure of co-founder Craig Nickels.

Nickels left in June after working with Alignment co-founder Austin Long for over 14 years, to take over the position of director of private markets for the Washington University Investment Management Company. There he will work on private market strategies and portfolio construction, particularly in private equity and real estate.

“He received the proverbial offer you cannot refuse,” said Long. “He was hired by the board to report directly to the board, a rare confluence of circumstances.”

Long said the firm has ceased its advisory businesses. The firm previously ran Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s Targeted Opportunities Program, investing the pension plan’s capital in private equity funds capitalised at $250 million or less, including venture capital, leveraged buyouts and special situations. PERA has since taken over management of the program.

“I’m not going to be able to select managers with one person and an analyst,” Long said.

But rather than looking to replace Nickels, Long said he is currently meeting with outside participants to develop a pilot project which he declined to describe in greater detail.

Alignment at one point hoped to raise a fund of funds targeting private equity vehicles with less than $400 million in commitments. In 2004 the firm hired Frank Fernandez away from the Florida State Board of Administration to raise the $300 million fund, but Fernandez left the firm several weeks later.