Australia FoF Quay makes debut US hire

Ian Deas, former head of US secondaries at Pantheon, will help clients of the Sydney-based firm enter the US secondaries market.

Sydney-headquartered private equity fund of funds manager and advisory firm Quay Partners has appointed Ian Deas, former head of US secondaries at Pantheon Ventures, as a partner and head of its US operations.

San Francisco-based Deas is Quay Partners’ first US appointment. He will focus primarily on helping buyers enter the US secondaries market and portfolio reconstruction advisory services.

“Initially we see a big opportunity with a lot of the first-time secondary buyers looking for advice on how to price and complete transactions – that’s where we see the short-term opportunity,” Stephen White,  Sydney-based co-founder and managing partner at Quay Partners told PEI Asia.

White added that there was also a “big opportunity” to connect Australian institutional money with US secondary fund transactions as the country’s super funds increasingly looked to invest offshore.

Initially we see a big opportunity with a lot of the first-time secondary buyers looking for advice on how to price and complete transactions.

Stephen White

Deas was at Pantheon for a total of 18 years, prior to which he held a number of corporate finance roles in Europe and South Africa.

Established in 2000, Sydney-based Quay Partners currently has assets under management of A$980 million (€691 million; $964 million) and has advised more than A$4 billion in assets.

Australia supports a small group of fund of funds players, which also includes Macquarie Funds Group, Wilshire, Industry Funds Management, and ING Investment Management, along with several local private equity advisory firms like Quentin Ayres and Continuity Capital Partners, the new venture from ex-Wilshire Associates professional Ovidio Iglesias, Grant Fleming, and Bill Humphreys.

As their core investor base of Australian super funds has increased in sophistication and begun to look farther afield for investment opportunities, several of these firms have started to adapt and expand their remit. 

“We are trying to grow the business internationally,” White told PEI Asia. “Part of it is following the market – while we think the case for Australian private equity is very strong, the demand domestically exceeds local market capacity so Australian institutions are naturally moving offshore.”

Scrutiny on fee structures within the Australian private equity market has also meant that there is less capital available for domestically-focused fund of funds, with many of the larger super funds increasingly preferring to pay for advisory services instead.

“The drive against fees is a drive away from funds of funds and towards gatekeepers,” one professional with an overview of the industry told PEI Asia in an interview earlier this year. “Consultants will act as gatekeepers and so will funds of funds.”

Jenny Blinch contributed to this report.