The erstwhile private equity team at MLC has started its own specialist advisory firm, which is seeking permanent capital for a global fund-of-funds.

The new firm, Longreef Capital, has kept a low profile since its formation in December, advising some funds on individual manager investments and applying for a licence to launch the fund-of-funds product. The former head of MLC’s $1 billion-plus program, Charl Pienaar, left the multimanager in late 2005 but consulted to it for a year, before his MLC colleagues of ten years, Steve Whatmore and Matthew Arkinstall, joined him to form Longreef in December. Pienaar said Longreef’s fund-of-fund product would retain the “;convictional”; characteristic of its MLC predecessor, which never had “;more than two dozen”; underlying manager relationships in an asset class where 50 to 100 underlying relationships are typical. Pienaar said the sell-side transactional background of all three Longreef principals – Whatmore in structured finance, Arkinstall in infrastructure and Pienaar in development capital – allowed them to “;speak the language”; of their target managers, a boon in the highly competitive race to access quality firms. Pienaar said the firm also played up its “;Australian-ness”; and associated openness of presentation, which he said was well received by managers overseas, particularly in the US. The name ‘Longreef’ was chosen to convey an intrinsically Australian, “;great southern ocean”; sort of image, Pienaar said.

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