Fresh Profile: Cordish Private Ventures balances between LP stakes and directs

  • Why this is important: Many families move slowly from passive LP investors to direct investments

Family offices usually result from families selling off profitable businesses. Cordish Private Ventures, founded in 1998, is different — it is just one part of Cordish Cos, a family enterprise still active in its core real-estate-development business, as well as gaming and sports-anchored entertainment.

Moreover, while many FOs seek more direct investments, Cordish focuses mostly on funds and passive investments, while leaving the door open to select direct investments.

“We have what we think is a nice, balanced approach,” said Jonathan Sinex, managing director at CPV and the stepson of Cordish family patriarch David Cordish.

“We write primary checks to funds and we do passive direct opportunities, where we’re investing directly into the companies alongside our managers as co-investments. … We’ll typically write up to a $5 million check into a company where we don’t have control,” Sinex told Buyouts.

Cordish has invested about $100 million a year over the past few years, Sinex said, splitting about 70-30 between these two different types of investments.

When it comes to funds, Cordish splits among buyouts, growth equity and venture. Sinex broke that down to about two-thirds buyouts and one-third growth equity and VC.

Cordish focuses on smaller funds, preferably less than $500 million. “They are not the TPGs, the Blackstones and the Carlyles of the world,” Sinex said. Among the buyout funds they have invested in are Trivest, DFW Capital Partners and Incline Equity Partners. Growth equity and venture funds Cordish has worked with include Elephant Partners, Luminate Capital Partners and Nosara Capital.

But that does not mean Cordish is opposed to direct investments.

“Selectively and opportunistically we are looking to write larger direct checks ourselves, where we’ll run and own those companies for the long haul,” Sinex told Buyouts. Among Cordish’s direct investments are Top Golf, La Colombe and Omni Ophthalmic Management Consultants.

Sinex told Buyouts that what ties all of CPV’s investments together is mostly focusing on the “small-cap private equity space,” meaning smaller investments in companies with between $50 million and $150 million in enterprise value.

“In our mind, this is the sweet spot for private equity,” Sinex said.

Sinex called Cordish “industry agnostic,” though they do not do any real estate investments as the family company already does that.

Since the Cordish family has been in business for so long, they tend to like working with other family businesses.

“Because we don’t have a fund structure, we’re open to much longer hold periods,” Sinex said. “We hope that we are perceived to be a great long-term partner for businesses.”

CPV’s chairman is Jonathan Cordish. CPV also operates a joint venture with Dixon Advisory, Cordish Dixon Private Equity Partners, which Sinex manages full-time. This venture invests some of Dixon’s capital in Cordish’s private equity investments. Jonathan Cordish chairs the joint venture’s advisory board as well.

Over time, Sinex said, they would like to bring other families and institutions into the joint venture, too.

“Think of us as being private equity specialists for other family offices and smaller institutions,” Sinex said.

Action item: Contact Jonathan Sinex at