Coller Capital approaches buyers for prospective sale

Pioneering Coller is one of the few remaining independent secondaries firms of scale after a frantic year of M&A activity.

Coller Capital, one of the largest independent secondaries firms in the world, could be the next secondaries firm to change hands, Secondaries Investor has learned.

The London-headquartered firm has approached at least two private equity firms with the intention of selling the business, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter. One is understood to have been a listed private equity firm.

A pioneer of secondaries, Coller has amassed $26 billion in assets under management since its founding in 1990, with founder and chief investment officer Jeremy Coller becoming synonymous with the market.

In 1998, Coller bought a $265 million portfolio of LP interests from Shell’s US Pensions Trust, then the largest-ever secondaries deal, affiliate title Buyouts reported. In 2000, Coller was lead investor in the first $1-billion-plus secondaries deal, the acquisition of a portfolio of private fund stakes from bank NatWest.

Last year it raised $9 billion for its eighth flagship secondaries fund, with support from limited partners such as Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, National Pension Service of Korea (NPS) and Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri, according to Secondaries Investor data.

The ultimate principal owner of the firm is Jeremy Coller, Secondaries Investor noted in November. “I think groups do need to become multi-shareholder over time. We’ll have to do that when I get grey hair,” he said in 2017.

Coller and Lexington Partners are among three independent, pure-play secondaries firms left in the top 20 of the SI 50, Secondaries Investor‘s ranking of the largest fundraisers. The third is Committed Advisors.

The potential sale comes in the wake of an unprecedented year for secondaries M&A activity. In June, ninth-ranked Landmark Partners was acquired by Ares Management for around $1 billion. Last month, 17th-ranked Glendower Capital was acquired by CVC Capital Partners.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Lexington Partners is in talks over a possible sale to KKR.

Montana Capital Partners and Greenspring Associates were among the other independent firms to find a buyer this year, Secondaries Investor reported.

Coller said it does not comment on market rumours.