Wilshire hires PE veteran in Australia

Wilshire Associates’ private markets unit has named Gary Gabriel as a managing director and head of the firm’s Canberra, Australia office.

Wilshire Private Markets has hired Gary Gabriel from Australian sovereign wealth fund the Future Fund Management Agency.

Gabriel joins Wilshire Private Markets, a unit of Los Angeles-based Wilshire Associates, as a managing director responsible for the Asia-Pacific region and head of the firm’s Canberra office.

Gabriel’s appointment comes following a period of heavy turnover at Wilshire after the firm hired BlackRock veteran Kevin Nee as president of the private equity division in July 2009.

“We had some departures of a few people in our Australia office early in 2010,” president of Wilshire Associates Larry Davanzo told PEO. “We’ve been in the process of looking for senior staff there for a good period of time.”

Gabriel will help the firm increase its penetration in the Australian market in 2011, Davanzo said.

“We also have aspirations to do more work with Australian investors, given Wilshire’s other businesses as well,” he said. In addition to fund management, the firm also offers investment consulting services.

At the Future Fund, a $67 billion plan established in 2006, Gabriel was head of private markets, prior to which he held the same title at UniSuper Management, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, with more than $24 billion under management.

Opportunities for private equity investment in Australia have expanded considerably in recent years, especially as big institutions in the country look to put their money to work in alternative asset classes. Several funds of funds managers have told PEO they are excited about the opportunities for fundraising in Australia.

Recent data from the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association shows that investment in the region increased 14 percent year-on-year to $2.1 billion. On the divestment front, the trade association noted there were 60 exits of 49 companies in Fiscal Year 2010, an increase from the 54 exits of 37 companies in 2009.