Columbia endowment names new CIO

Columbia University’s investment management company, which has more than 20% of its $9bn assets in private equity, promoted a managing director after former CIO Peter Holland was promoted to CEO.

Columbia Investment Management Company (IMC), the $9 billion endowment of Columbia University with more than a fifth of its assets in private equity, promoted Tim Donohue to chief investment officer, according to IMC spokesman Robert Hornsby. 

Donohue, previously a managing director, will work closely with IMC chief executive officer Peter Holland to manage the New York-based university’s endowment. Holland was previously CIO and was promoted to CEO after the departure of former CEO Nirmal Narvekar, who left to join Harvard University’s investment management company, as reported by Private Equity International.

IMC allocates 22 percent, or $1.98 billion, to private equity, as of 30 June, down from 23.6 percent a year earlier. The endowment has committed to funds managed by general partners including energy-focused Tailwater Capital, Chinese TMT sector-focused Trustbridge Partners and London-based mid-market firm Synova Capital, according to PEI data.

Donohue’s new position as CIO is effective immediately, Hornsby said. He was one of six managing directors at IMC, according to its website.

A source familiar with the matter told PEI Donohue was a generalist covering all asset classes as a managing director and that it was premature to consider his replacement.

Donohue joined IMC in August 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he was a partner at consulting firm Booz and Company, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, according to Hornsby. He had been at Booz and Company for 11 years. 

Earlier in his career, Donohue worked in the energy sector, having been a general manager at BHP Petroleum in Hawaii, an oil trader at Caltex Petroleum in Dallas, and a project engineer at Caltex in Bahrain, according to his LinkedIn page.

Columbia University’s journal, Columbia Spectator, reported in October that the university’s endowment realised a 0.9 percent loss for its overall investment portfolio for the 2016 fiscal year. 

This was the smallest loss among the Ivy League universities for the fiscal year, with the exception of Princeton, which posted a 0.8 percent gain, and Yale, which realised a gain of 3.4 percent, the only two Ivy league schools that posted a positive return.