Investors in Wilshire Private Markets’ Australian and international private equity funds-of-funds are waiting for the manager to call an investor meeting, at which the ongoing management of the funds will be decided following the trigger of key-person provisions by the resignations of most senior staff. Global chief investment officer Jeffrey Ennis, and senior managing directors Ovidio Iglesias and Dan Allen, ran the business until last June when parent company Wilshire Associates installed Kevin Nee as president of the private equity advisor and fund-of-funds manager.

All three have now resigned, for reasons not officially clear but understood to be related to perceived interference in the Private Markets Group by the parent, Wilshire Associates. The situation is complicated in the Asia-Pacific by the fact that Ovidio Iglesias, and other senior executives who joined Wilshire from Canberra’s Total Risk Management early last decade, own shares in their businesses. Maritime Super has a $40 million exposure to Wilshire’s first and second closed-end fund-offunds of Australian managers. Even though the underlying managers in those funds have already been selected by Iglesias and colleagues, Maritime’s executive officer Glenn Davis said the departures were still a concern.

The Wilshire team had ongoing involvement in the running of its underlying managers. It’s understood that under the limited partnership agreements Wilshire maintains with its clients, a 75 per cent majority of votes will be required by any prospective new manager for it to be successful. “Over the past year, we have been implementing our strategic plan which includes the further integration of the Private Markets Group into Wilshire to create deeper synergies and benefits for our clients by leveraging the considerable intellectual capital of our four divisions,” said Dennis Tito, Wilshire Associates chairman and CEO, in an e-mail response to Pensions & Investments Magazine following Ennis’ resignation earlier this month.

Much of Wilshire Private Markets’ $3 billion under management in Australia is with clients of Frontier Investment Consulting, where senior consultant Allison Hill said the situation was being closely monitored. Wilshire’s Australian office, based in Canberra, has seen not only Iglesias resign but also Bill Humphries, the director of investment research. Fellow Australian and Total Risk Management alumni Grant Fleming, who was running the group’s Japanese office, also put in his notice this month. However it’s understood that Grant Harrison, the managing director of the Australian office, remains with the organisation.

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