LP briefs, week of May 26, 2008

OPERS’ alternative asset chief leaves

Greg Uebele

, the head of alternative asset investments for the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Ohio, resigned earlier this month, according to Buyouts, a PE Week affiliated publication.

Uebele, who was hired in 2001 to lead OPERS’ first investments in private equity, left the state pension fund on May 9. A source at OPERS would not say where Uebele is headed next, and added that OPERS has no plans yet to replace him. Before he joined OPERS, Uebele was with the Houston Firefighters Relief & Retirement Fund.

As a senior investment officer for the $71.6 billion state pension fund, Uebele managed relationships with OPERS’ external advisers and managers, including advisers of OPERS’ private equity, real estate and global bond portfolios. Through Dec. 31, the pension fund’s holdings in private equity totaled $2.2 billion, or 3.2% of all assets. More than 70% of that sum is committed to LBO funds, with the remainder earmarked for venture capital and special situations.

When Uebele joined OPERS in 2001, the limited partner had recently set a 4% allocation target to private equity. OPERS raised the target to 5% last year and added a new 5% target allocation to a $13 billion health care fund also under OPERS’ management.

The pension fund expects to commit about $1.2 billion per year across both allocations through 2013, according to its 2008 investment plan. The LP typically commits $20 million to $200 million to buyout funds.

OPERS has previously backed firms such as The Blackstone Group, Blue Point Capital Partners, Castle Harlan, Linsalata Capital Partners and the Riverside Co. —Jeremy Harrell

Greenhill mines Lehman for placement team

Boutique investment bank Greenhill & Co. took a bite out of Lehman Brothers this month by poaching its private equity fund placement team, including Chris Kirsten, who was Lehman’s global head of private fund marketing.

Kirsten’s defection to New York-based Greenhill & Co. comes as the firm plans to compete against the likes of Lazard and Park Hill Group, a division of The Blackstone Group that’s been gaining significant market share. Joining Kirsten are two ex-Lehman Brothers Managing Directors, Patrick Dunleavy and Neil Banta, Principal (and former NFL quarterback) Dave Brown and Vice President Meghan Kelly. The moves become effective in the coming weeks.

“We originally went out looking for someone to help us market our own funds,” said Greenhill & Co. co-CEO Scott Bok, whose firm has raised two mid-market buyout funds in the United States and one in Europe, as well as 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 fund-raising opportunities. It also will look to hire some staff in Europe, and perhaps even a bit more in the U.S.

In March, Lehman Brothers hired former UBS placement chief Mark Bourgeois to serve as co-head of Global Institutional Distribution with a focus on alternative investments.

The move essentially meant that Kirsten was stripped of much of his influence, according to a source familiar with the situation. —Dan Primack