OMERS Private Equity makes Michael Graham chief

Graham, a 17-year OMERS veteran, will replace Mark Redman, who has decided to leave the Canadian pension fund for personal reasons.

Michael Graham has been named the global head of private equity at OMERS, replacing Mark Redman, who held the job for nearly five years, Buyouts has learned.

Graham will assume leadership of OMERS Private Equity following Redman’s departure at the end of March, according to an OMERS statement obtained by Buyouts. Redman decided to leave the Canadian pension fund for personal reasons, the statement said.

Graham is a senior managing director and head of OMERS’ PE operation in North America, a role he has held since 2013. Joining OMERS in 2003 from Working Ventures Canadian Fund, Graham started out by leading PE investment activity in Canada. Six years later, he opened OMERS’ office in New York and took charge of US-based activity.

Redman joined OMERS in 2009 from 3i to launch and build its European PE operation. Becoming the group’s global head in 2015, he oversaw the expansion of portfolio assets to C$14.2 billion ($10.7 billion, €9.9 billion) as of December 2018.

Redman and Graham both played a major part in the transition of OMERS Private Equity to in-house direct investing. The strategy, which began with the 2006 acquisition of CCNMatthews, later renamed Marketwired, saw the PE group gradually shed fund investments and focus on solo investments, a pioneering move that remains unique among institutions.

In the statement, Satish Rai, OMERS’ chief investment officer, acknowledged Redman’s leadership in the shift to direct investing, noting it “served the OMERS overall investment strategy very well.” Graham will maintain this approach, Rai said, in the PE group’s “next chapter.”

Operating from offices in London, New York, Singapore and Toronto, OMERS Private Equity mostly acquires majority ownership stakes in private companies based in North America and Europe. The group’s global team of 50-plus investment professionals primarily targets opportunities in business services, healthcare, industrials and software sectors.

Late last year, OMERS Private Equity agreed to acquire Cortec Group’s Community Vet Partners, a Philadelphia veterinary hospital business, for an implied value of about $600 million, PE Hub reported.

With the 2018 opening of the Singapore office, OMERS is expected to eventually ramp up direct PE investing in the Asia-Pacific region. Jeff French, formerly with Blackstone Group, was recruited in December as a Singapore-based investment director, Buyouts reported.

Along with the PE group, OMERS Private Equity houses OMERS Growth Equity and OMERS Ventures.

OMERS, which invests on behalf of Ontario municipal employees, managed net assets of more than C$97 billion as of December 2018.

Action item: Reach OMERS Private Equity at its Toronto headquarters here: 416-369-2400