Michael Catts, a long-time executive at Evercore focusing on LP portfolio sales, is leaving to join Hollyport Capital, according to four sources familiar with the move.
The move is an example of the kind of frenetic movement that’s been happening in private equity secondaries as firms seek to draw from a small pool of talent. As secondaries has exploded in popularity over the past few years – reaching a record volume level last year of about $130 billion – the growth of the talent pool has not kept up.
Those with experience in secondaries have been in high demand, both on the buyside as firms look for professionals to handle the large amount of deals in the pipeline, and the sellside as advisers try to keep up with demand.
Catts joined Evercore in 2013, prior to which he worked at UBS starting in 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile. He specialised in traditional LP portfolio sales, a side of the business that flagged in popularity after the pandemic closed the market for a period of months. LP sales came back in a big way last year amid rich pricing – estimated around 92 percent of net asset value across all strategies – and buyer demand for diversification away from the large, concentrated bets they had made earlier in the year.
Catts will join Hollyport around the end of April as head of the firm’s New York office, a source told Secondaries Investor. Principal James Jupp, who moved to New York in 2018 to open the new office, will be returning to London.
The firm has a specialised strategy in acquiring tail-end portfolios, which are generally 10-year-old-plus funds with only a few assets remaining, where the sponsor wants to sell to close out the pool.
Hollyport is in the market targeting up to $2.5 billion across its Fund VIII, with a $1.5 billion target, and an overage fund targeting $500 million, according to documents from Connecticut state treasurer. Connecticut committed $175 million to the funds.
Hollyport was formed by John Carter, John Beatty and Ian Worden in 2006. Beatty and Worden have since retired, the documents said. The firm is fully owned and managed by Carter, Edward Gay, Steven Nicholls and Richard Grindrod, who are all members of the investment committee, the documents said.
Carter spent much of his career in direct PE investing, including as head of 3i’s mid-market buyout and growth equity team in London, the document said.
Last year, Evercore hired several executives from Triago to work on traditional LP portfolio sales. The bank brought on David Markson, James Fish and Mike Bynarowicz, affiliate title Buyouts previously reported.
Of the $132 billion of estimated total secondaries volume last year, LP portfolio sales was about $64 billion, according to Jefferies full-year 2021 volume report. LP sale volume was up 156 percent from 2020.