Nova hires US pros, opens NY office

Nova Capital Management, the specialist secondary investor, has hired US practitioners Dennis Powers and Samir Assaad to tap North American deal flow.

Nova Capital Management, the London-headquartered investor in underperforming private equity and venture capital portfolios, has opened an office in New York.

The news comes alongside the announcement that Nova has completed its fourth investment since inception. In a press release, the firm said it agreed to acquire an $80 million fund portfolio from Atlantic Medical Capital, a New York-based private equity group specialising in healthcare-related investment. Funding the purchase was provided by Caledonia Investments, one of Nova’s shareholders.

Nova was advised by Winchester Capital, an independent private equity and M&A advisor in New Haven, Connecticut, and Kaye Scholer, a New York-headquartered law firm.

To manage the Atlantic Medical portfolio, Nova has hired Dennis Powers and Samir Assaad, two US professionals. Powers, a former management consultant with McKinsey, joins Nova after a career in operational management. Samir is a former executive at Vivendi Universal where he handled the restructuring and disposal of the company’s digital media and technology portfolio in the US.

Powers and Assaad are Nova’s first US-based employees. Commenting on the news, Nova co-founder Michael Kelly told PrivateEquityOnline: “The US is a tough market and more competitive than the UK, but it is also better developed in terms of deal flow as more owners of private equity want to restructure their holdings. We recognise that in order to compete, we need to be fairly American. Shipping ideas and people into the US from London won’t work, which is why we are building a local presence.”

The Atlantic Medical deal is Nova’s fourth investment. It now manages four private equity portfolios, comprising some 40 underlying companies. Earlier this month, the group teamed with Boston-based HarbourVest Partners to acquire assets from the West LB-owned West LB Growth Fund for an undisclosed consideration. Nova also owns assets formerly controlled by UK managers Lica Development Capital and Albemarle Private Equity.

Nova was launched in 2002 by Michael Kelly, former senior partner of Executive Interim Management; David Williamson, former chief executive of Granville Baird; and Lord Hodgson, former chairman of Granville Baird. In June 2003, Caledonia Investments acquired a 33 percent stake in the firm.

The firm has not raised a dedicated pool of capital, instead funding deals on a case by case basis in conjunction with strategic partners.