StepStone bulks up in Europe with Parish buyout

The Monte Brem-led firm has acquired Parish Capital Advisors, a small and niche market specialist in the US and Europe with $2bn in assets under management.

StepStone Group is building up its European team with the acquisition of Parish Capital Advisors’ funds management business, the firm announced in a statement. The deal is expected to close in early 2012. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

StepStone will expand its London team through the deal, bringing in Parish managing partner David Jeffrey to head its European operations and business strategy.

“It’s a very good thing for us. Both in the European part of our business and also in small market, niche focused funds, which is something we’ve always had an interest in,” StepStone chief executive officer Monte Brem told Private Equity International. “It’s really hard to access this part of the market for most LPs, and there’s much more interest. People need help, whether through an advisor or manager, in accessing this part of the market.”

Brem cited strong returns on the lower end of the market, as well as increased demand from LPs for unique firms and strategies, as a motivator for the deal. 

People need help, whether through an advisor or manager, in accessing this part of the market.

Monte Brem

Parish, which is led by managing partners Jeffrey, Charles Merritt and James Mason, specialises in niche or small market private equity opportunities in the US and Europe and controls $2 billion in assets. It is unclear if Merritt and Mason will stay with StepStone after the transition, Brem said.

While the firm may bring on members of Parish’s US team, StepStone has no long term plans to maintain an office in North Carolina, where Parish is headquartered, Brem said.

“We really feel like we need to keep a cultural consistency in our firm, so we really need to minimise the number of offices we maintain to keep people together. We have a good balance between California and New York now, and we’d like to maintain that office configuration in the US,” Brem said.

Europe is not the only area where StepStone has expanded recently. Last year, the firm acquired SilverBrook Private Equity, which added three veterans of the private equity secondaries market to the firm’s senior leadership. The acquisition of SilverBrook occurred only a month before the firm hired former Hina Group managing director Weichou Su to lead its Beijing office.

StepStone oversees more than $40 billion in private equity allocations and has $7.5 billion in assets under management, according to its website. Prominent clients include the State of Wisconsin Investment Board and The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System.