Private Placement Poaching

Greenhill & Co. took a bite out of Lehman Brothers today, by poaching its private equity fund placement team. Lehman responded by shrugging its shoulders.

This is something I should have seen coming in March, when Lehman hired former UBS placement chief Mark Bourgeois to serve as co-head of Global Institutional Distribution with a focus on alternative investments. It basically meant that Lehman’s Chris Kirsten got too keep his fancy title – global head of private fund marketing – but lost much of his actual influence.

“Bourgeois will do whatever he feels is best, and not everyone saw things the same way,” explains a source familiar with the situation. “The group is now integrated to include marketing for hedge funds-of-funds, real estate funds and other things that aren’t traditional private equity.”

The result is Kirsten’s defection to Greenhill, which hopes to compete against the likes of Lazard and Blackstone’s Park Hill Group. Joining him are ex-Lehman managing directors Patrick Dunleavy and Neil Banta, principal Dave Brown (yeah, the former NFL quarterback) and vice president Meghan Kelly. The moves become effective within the next few weeks.

It is unclear what happens to the Lehman team’s existing engagements, although it was only working on a small handful of third-party funds. The rest were Lehman-branded efforts, including a new infrastructure vehicle and another Crossroads fund-of-funds.

“We originally went out looking for someone to help us market our own funds,” explains Greenhill co-CEO Scott Bok, whose firm has raised two mid-market buyout funds in the U.S., one in Europe and a U.S. venture fund. “But what we found was that there were a lot of individuals looking to move, and eventually realized that a fund placement business was kind of a natural for a boutique firm like Greenhill.”

Bok adds that the group will target mid-market buyout opportunities (fund sizes up to $1.5 billion), plus some venture opportunities. It also will look to hire some staff in Europe, and perhaps even a bit more in the U.S.