Random Ramblings: NYC, Oris Capital & More

Seven weeks ago, I devoted a column to the New York City pension system’s appalling lack of qualified private equity managers. Specifically, the system – a collective of five separate systems – had just two dedicated managers overseeing $3.09 billion in commitments. One was Timothy Kelly, while the other apparently just had an X on his/her birth certificate. 

At the time, I wrote that NYC would not allow me to speak with Kelly, and then sarcastically suggested that it was because he was “too damn busy.” But now I have a new theory: He was preparing to leave. 

Let me clearly state that I cannot prove he was planning to leave, only that he has indeed done so. As first reported by Private Equity Insider, Kelly has bolted for the greener pastures of a fund-of-funds team at Zurich Capital Markets. I have been unable to confirm this yet with NYC (they’re getting back to me), although I did leave a voicemail at Zurich for someone named “Timothy Kelly.” Since I’ve never spoken with him before, it’s impossible to confirm it was his voice. 

Anyway, this news comes just one day after deputy comptroller for pensions Horatio Sparkes resigned, and is the latest in a n NYC defection bonanza that would even make Katherine Harris blush. PE Insider reports that CIO Rita Sallis has taken temporary ownership of private equity, but her background is in municipal finance. I heard that some NYC bigs weren’t pleased with my dismal assessment of their competence back in July, but nothing yet has happened to change my mind. 

Yes, I know that they continue to interview potential replacements for Kelly and additional private equity staffers (after inexplicably not advertising the vacant positions for several months), but how did they let the situation get so dire? Of equal import, how will NYC explain away its inability to retain talent? I would direct these questions to NYC, but there really isn’t anyone there right now to answer them. 

*** I reported yesterday that Berkshire Partners of Boston has closed on over $2 billion in capital commitments for its seventh fund. A final close is slated for the end of this month, with expectations that the final total will be somewhere between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. 

*** Oris Capital Partners has launched as a New York-based firm focused on the transition from analog media to digital media. Its website describes the opportunity as follows: “This ongoing shift from analog to digital, narrowband to broadband, fixed connections to mobile connectivity and the development of multiple interactive platforms has created technology disruption and new growth markets on a global scale.” 

Oris is targeting $250 million for its inaugural fund, and I hear that it already has soft circles from several LPs. It also has an impressive group of principals: Michael Carus (formerly of JVP), Clarke Keough (Allen & Co.), Los Angeles-based Hassan Miah (Intel Capital) and Joel Katz (Greenberg Traurig). Katz may be the best known of the bunch, as he runs Greenberg Traurig’s global entertainment practice, and also is chairman of the American Bar Association’s Entertainment and Sports Law Forum and general counsel to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. He declined to comment (SEC restrictions), but a source says that he’ll split his time between Oris and Greenberg Traurig. 

*** So now it turns out that Patricia Dunn had investigators obtain the phone records of journalists covering Hewlett-Packard, in addition to the records of HP board members. The only thing more shameful than this illegal action is her continuing refusal to resign. 

*** I asked for an invite to The Carlyle Group’s annual meeting, which is being held next week in NYC. Rumor is that their next $15 billion fund-raising effort could be unveiled. They understandably said no. So now I actively solicit spies. Don’t worry, Pat Dunn doesn’t have any sway there. 

*** Sweden is having a locust moment. It too shall pass. 

*** I’ll be conducting a keynote interview with Barry Gonder of Grove Street Advisors, on Thuresday, Sept. 28 in New York. It’s part of a New York Capital Roundtable Master Class on fundraising for PE and VC firms. More info here

*** Finally, a very happy anniversary to J. I still can’t believe it’s been five years… the best five years of my life so far.