Wilshire Associates will relocate two executives from its US business in an attempt to shore up its Australian private equity fund-of-fund operation, following the departure of its founder and other key staff who secured commitments from an array of superannuation funds.

It is understood that Wilshire told super fund clients and their asset consultants last week that two US-based members of its private markets division will move into the firm’s Canberra office to replace Ovidio Iglesias, executive director and founder of Wilshire Australia, and director of investment research Bill Humphries.

It’s understood the news was delivered personally by the man who became president of Wilshire Private Markets last June, Kevin Nee.

Super funds contacted by I&T News yesterday were waiting to hear the details of Wilshire Private Markets’ plan to recover from the walkout of 10 people from its offices in the US, Australia and Japan. Some investors, such as Telstra Super’s Jim Christensen and Glenn Davis of Maritime Super, were not too alarmed by the departures because their funds’ commitments were close to maturity.

But the illiquid nature of private equity investments meant that all investors must reach a uniform resolution with Wilshire, said Sam Sicilia, chief investment officer of HostPlus. Unitholders could not simply divest from the manager, and it was important that underlying general partners were not disrupted from steering companies towards profitable exits, he said.

“It will take cooperation from investors around the world, not just Australia,” Sicilia said.

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