EMAlternatives loses co-founders to Pomona

Ernest Lambers and John Stephens have left the emerging markets fund of funds to join the London and Hong Kong offices of secondaries-focused Pomona.

EMAlternatives co-founders Ernest Lambers and John Stephens have left the firm to join the New York-based fund of funds and secondaries investor Pomona Capital.

Lambers and Stephens will continue to manage out portions of the EM portfolio, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Lambers will be based in London, while Stephens will work from the firm’s Hong Kong office. Both men have been named managing directors and will focus on Pomona’s investment programmes in Asia and the emerging markets.

Lambers was previously chief investment officer of emerging markets-focused EM, which he co-founded in 2007. Prior to establishing EM, he was head of emerging markets for AlpInvest Partners in Amsterdam, where he led primary fund investing in Asia and the developing world.

Stephens focused on private equity advisory and M&A transactions in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe at EM, prior to which he worked for the Global Environment Fund in Moscow.

EMAlternatives remains in existence on a “care and maintenance basis” going forward, the firm’s third co-founder Nicholas Morriss told Private Equity International.

“We’re not raising fresh capital to invest,” Morriss said. “We’re continuing to manage the mandate, the programmes that we currently have, and in fact John and Ernest will be fully involved in that going forward.”

EMAlternatives’ capital is fully invested, Morriss added, having invested in 11 different managers. Founded in 2007, the firm received its first commitment from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, with which EM has a $100 million mandate. Approximately 60 percent of the firm’s capital is invested in Asia with the rest spread geographically in regions such as the Middle East and North Africa and Brazil.

Last year, EM launched a RMB-denominated fund of funds to invest in Chinese venture capital and growth capital funds. That fund received a RMB500 million (€54.72 million; $75.28 million) commitment from the MinHang district of Shanghai Municipal Government. The fund of funds opened a Shaghai office in November 2008.

Pomona Capital has had its share of turnover in recent years. In May of 2010, the firm lost partners Mark Maruszewski and Thomas Bradley, two veterans of the firm’s secondaries advisory business, to StepStone Group.

Pomona was founded in 1994 and invests in secondary fund interests, primary fund commitments and co-investments. The firm manages $6.7 billion for a group of 250 investors, according to its website.

Pomona has locations in New York, London and Hong Kong. The firm was unavailable to comment at press time.