Joncarlo Mark Launches Firm, Upwelling Capital

Joncarlo Mark, a former senior portfolio manager at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, has formed his own firm, Upwelling Capital Group, sister Web site peHub reported.

Sacramento-based Upwelling will help institutional investors deal with their orphan assets. The firm is targeting any institutional investor that has made commitments or investments to private equity or alternative investments. This can include financial institutions, public pension plans, endowments/foundations, family offices, sovereign wealth funds and even secondary funds and fund-of-funds, Mark said.

Mark told peHub he will help institutions “deal with the stuff that they don’t have the bandwidth to deal with. My job is not to replace staff but to help staff.”

Institutional investors, Mark said, are often limited in what they can do with their portfolios. Options include selling on the secondary market or doing nothing. “There are problem with both,” Mark said. “If you do nothing you risk continuing erosion of value. If you go out to the secondary market, you could face significant discounts.”

He said he can also help institutions deal several situations such as secondary selling, replacing managers, restructuring partnerships and realigning the interests between investors and the GP.

Mark, 41, left CalPERS in April after spending nearly a dozen years with the public pension plan. He was part of a team responsible for investing in private equity partnerships and direct investments. At CalPERS he led restructurings of over $2 billion in private equity partnership interests and helped oversee a $2.25 billion secondary transaction in 2007.

He said was never a target of the pension fund probe that has recently embroiled CalPERS nor was he ever accused of any wrongdoing. He also said he did not leave CalPERS because of the investigation. Instead, Mark said, he was ready to “move onto the next thing to do with my life. Twelve years at a public plan is a long time.”

However, Mark is expected to be fined $1400 in a separate probe by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to report gifts. Mark said he did report almost everything he received at CalPERS (not everything rises to the $50 threshold, he said), but that he used the wrong form. The gifts mainly comprised meals, some gift bags and a face scrubber.

“These are technical reporting violations,” Mark said. “No laws were broken. I did not exceed the gift limit.”

Upwelling—an oceanic term that refers to when nutrient-rich water rises from the ocean’s depths to the surface—doesn’t have any staff but for Mark. However, Mark has “several people” helping him with different needs and the firm will hire personnel as needed, he said.

(Luisa Beltran is a senior writer for peHub.)