Rebranded Northern Lights expands reach

The Seattle-based firm, which buys minority stakes in boutique asset managers, has merged with Echelon Capital.

Northern Lights Ventures has merged with Echelon Capital to become Northern Lights Capital Group. The Seattle-based firm invests only minority interests in boutique managers, and uses a “perpetual capital” investment approach.

“Unlike most private equity firms, we don’t have a fund set,” managing director John Zimmerman told PEO. “We’ll be a partner as long as the investment folks want us to be partners, so we really are perpetual capital.” 

Zimmerman co-founded Echelon Capital in 2007 with former managing director at Janus Capital Group Jack Swift. The firm focused on capitalising and helping position boutique managers with investors in institutional and intermediary marketplaces. Echelon was backed by the Kemmons Wilson Companies, started by the founder of Holiday Inn hotels, Kemmons Wilson.

In addition to Swift and Zimmerman, Northern Lights’ senior management team includes Paul Greenwood and Andrew Turner, formerly of Russell Investments, and Tim Carver, a former general partner with Orca Bay Partners.

Last week, Northern Lights completed a minority interest investment in del Rey Global Investors, a recently launched asset management firm based in Los Angeles. del Rey was founded by chief executive officer Paul Hechmer, who previously founded Tradewinds Global Investors, where he managed and co-managed more than $25 billion in the firm’s international and global portfolios. In June, Northern Lights acquired a minority interest in The Aldenwood Group, a Redwood Shores, California-based firm specialising in private equity secondary investments. The terms of both transactions were not disclosed.

Northern Lights has a portfolio of roughly 12 investment management companies, which collectively manage approximately $6 billion in assets, as of 30 April, 2010. The firms in which Northern Lights holds minority stakes are split evenly between alternative and traditional investments.

Last June, the firm backed the buyout of West LB Mellon Asset Management, a joint venture between German commercial bank WestLB and Bank of New York Mellion. The joint venture was based in the UK, and the MBO marked Northern Lights’ first deal outside of the US.