UBS builds private equity team in US

At a time when a significant number of major US funds are gearing up to fund raise in 2004, UBS has made a series of appointments at its US private equity funds group to deepen its presence in what the firm sees as a core market.

UBS has signalled its intentions to affirm its presence in the private equity placement market with a number of appointments at the firm’s US private equity funds group.


Richard Allsopp, managing director and global head of the UBS private equity funds group, has relocated to the US as part of the team’s increasing focus on winning US business, joining Jake Elmhirst, head of origination, who has been in the US since 2000. The pair will head up the firm’s US operations, based out of Stamford, which will also act as the unit’s global headquarters.


Ken Freeman joins the team as an executive director, responsible for heading up the firm’s West Coast operations. Freeman, who will be based in San Francisco, has joined the firm from Citigroup.


The private equity funds group has also hired Mark Schroeder, a former managing director at CSFB’s Private Funds Group, and Naren Srinivasan, who joins from Rothschild. Marty Voelker, formerly of Citigroup, also joins the group’s deal origination team.


UBS now has 25 professionals in the US and Europe, where UBS is already among the leading fund raising organisations. The European team, which now comprises eight placement professionals, will continue to be headed by James Moore.


“The European business was progressing well. We have secured a range of good mandates since we set up in 1998, but we felt it was a realistic target to aim to become the leading global fund placement agent,” said Elmhirst. “Despite the overall drop in fundraising worldwide, we have succeeded in growing the business.”


Two years ago, the firm won the European mandate to coordinate the European fundraising for Blackstone’s $6.5bn BCP IV fund, with Credit Suisse First Boston covering US fundraising. The firm has also co – ordinated fundraising mandates for Candover and John Childs.


Elmhirst said the group would aim to win around eight mandates per year, a figure which he thinks will ensure that each fundraising gets the right level of attention. “We don’t try to be all things to all people. If a firm takes on too many mandates there is a strong likelihood that some will fall by the wayside. If you can be focused and can select the quality mandates, it is possible to achieve fundraising targets, even in the current environment.”


UBS is attempting to capitalise on considerable turmoil over the past months amongst the placement community in both Europe and the US. In February, Merrill Lynch suffered a significant exodus of departures after seven placement professionals, including longstanding Merrills managing directors Ben Sullivan and William Riddle, defected to set up a placement group at Lazard. Initially, Sullivan and Riddle resigned from Merrill in February to join Lazard’s New York office. They were later joined by Mike Sutka, Scott Church, Tim O’Gara, Greg Myers, Robert White, Mark Christopher and Fran Lolli.


Citigroup’s placement team, led by Loren Boston, has also seen a number of departures this year, including Freeman and Voelker. There has also been considerable speculation about possible change at CSFB's group which was formerly the placement team at DLJ prior to its acquisition by CSFB. Notwithstanding the departure of Mark Schroeder, sources close to the bank have rejected any suggestion that key members of the team were yet to renew contracts with the bank and denied that a buyout of the business had been tabled. 


In April, Merrill Lynch filed a law suit against Lazard Freres and the group who left, charging the defectors with collusion and misappropriation of confidential information. A month later, Merrill hired five new professionals to its fund placement group, following the appointment in March of Christian Dummett, the former head of UK bank Abbey National’s private equity unit, who joined the Merrill’s London office.