Pierson, Belke take helm at Lovell Minnick

  • Co-Founders Lovell, Minnick to continue as chairmen
  • Jeff Lovell has no plans to leave PE firm he co-founded
  • Lovell Minnick IV is nearing full investment

Near 20 years after its founding, Lovell Minnick Partners set out the next phase of its expansion.

The Radnor, Pennsylvania, private equity firm said Jan. 18 that it named Steven Pierson and Robert Belke managing partners with day-to-day oversight of the firm, including finance, operations and investor relations. Pierson is heading the firm’s newly created management committee, which will include Belke and Partners John Cochran and Spencer Hoffman. Belke was also named chair of Lovell Minnick’s investment committee.

Jeffrey Lovell and James Minnick, co-founders, will continue as co-chairmen. The duo is staying on as co-chairs of Lovell Minnick’s board of managers.

At the same time, Lovell Minnick promoted three executives — Brad Armstrong, Jason Barg and Trevor Rich — to partner. Saurabh Desai and Scott Shebelsky were also named principals.

“It’s time for us to expand the leadership team,” said Jeff Lovell, who helped launch the middle-market PE firm in 1999. “The entire firm is quite excited about the future. This is the step for the next 20 years.”

The Lovell news comes as succession continues to be a hot topic in PE. Many larger buyout shops have faced criticism because their aging founders, many in their 70s, declined to hand over the reins to the younger generation.

That changed in 2017 when several larger firms set out succession plans. In July, KKR named Joseph Bae and Scott Nutall co-presidents and co-chief operating officers, while Carlyle Group in October tapped Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee as co-CEOs.

In November, Apollo Global Management said Scott Kleinman and James Zelter were appointed co-presidents. Not to be outdone, Ares Management promoted its co-founder and president, Michael Arougheti, to CEO in December. Blackstone Group has yet to reveal its succession plans.

Succession issues have caused other firms to implode, Co-Founder Lovell said. That’s why Lovell Minnick spent months discussing its leadership, he said. “We wanted to be proactive of the development of our leadership team,” he said.

Lovell said he has no plans to exit the firm. In fact, no partner has ever left Lovell Minnick in its near 20-year history, he said. “There are no changes in terms of offices or staffing or personnel,” Lovell said. “No one is coming or going.” He pointed to the firm’s non-founder partners, who are all investing in the firm, which he said shows their support of the leadership shift.

The middle-market firm did address one trend engulfing the industry: the sale of minority stakes to outside investors like Dyal Capital or Goldman Sachs. Lovell did not specifically address whether they considered selling a stake or have held discussions.

“Virtually any firm that has been around for a length of time has been approached or has had conversations with the handful of firms making these investments,” he said. “It’s not something we wanted to pursue at this time.”

Expansion

Lovell Minnick has grown since its launch in 1999. The PE firm was originally part of Putnam Lovell (which Jeff Lovell also co-founded) and spun out in 2004. Lovell Minnick operates out of three offices, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. It has about 20 investment professionals.

Once known for its asset-management focus, Lovell Minnick has expanded to include business services, specialty finance, insurance and financial technology. The PE firm in 2017 also completed its first payments transaction, a minority stake in Engage People, and is looking at deals in insure tech.

Diversity was also part of Lovell Minnick’s list in 2017. The PE firm hired its first woman dealmaker, Roumi Zlateva, last year. It also added Irene Hong Edwards as head of IR.

The firm’s most recent flagship, Lovell Minnick Equity Partners IV LP, closed on $750 million in late 2015. Flagship IV is approaching full investment and is now around 70 to 80 percent deployed, said Lovell executives, who declined comment on fundraising plans. The fifth flagship is in process, Buyouts has learned.

Action Item: Contact Jeff Lovell at +1 610-995-9660

The Iron Throne as seen on the set of the television series “Game of Thrones” in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on June 24, 2014. Photo courtesy Reuters/Phil Noble