Ex-Ardian execs, former Coller data scientists launch AI secondaries firm

Clipway has assembled a team that includes New York City Retirement Systems' former head of private equity, Secondaries Investor has learned.

A group of former top-level executives from Ardian have assembled a team that includes ex-Coller Capital and New York City Retirement Systems professionals to launch a buyside firm that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to price LP portfolios.

London-headquartered Clipway counts at least six former Ardian professionals on its investment committee, including former managing directors Vincent Gombault, Ingmar Vallano and Inigo Weston, and director Jonathan Hillgarth-Williams, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The firm is raising a fund to invest in LP portfolios and expects to hold a first close on around $1 billion by the end of summer, according to one of the sources.

Clipway’s strategy is understood to involve the use of AI and data analytics tools to evaluate cashflows from private markets portfolios and price them on a secondaries basis.

Gombault, who founded Ardian’s secondaries business and was a member of its executive committee and head of fund of funds and private debt, left the Paris-headquartered firm at the end of 2020, as Secondaries Investor reported.

Clipway is understood to count a number of well-known private equity and secondaries investors on its team, including David Enriquez, the former head of private equity at NYCRS, who joined Rothschild Five Arrows in 2021. Enriquez will lead Clipway’s US investments, it is understood.

Former Coller data scientist Harry Vander Elst, who left Coller in 2020, is understood to be head of data science; while Paul Houlgate, who previously spent more than 16 years at Coller until April last year, according to his LinkedIn profile, is understood to be Clipway’s chief technology officer.

Clipway and the individuals mentioned above either declined to comment or did not return requests for comment. A spokesperson for Rothschild confirmed that Enriquez had left the Five Arrows group.

Market sources have long said the LP secondaries market is ripe for disruption. Tap, a digital trading platform focusing on smaller sized private markets fund stakes, garnered $3 million in a funding round from venture capital firms and other investors to expand its operations, Secondaries Investor reported this week. It aims to leverage its pricing database and tech offering to help broaden the number of potential buyers of a fund stake, in turn increasing pricing for sellers.

Between 60 and 75 percent of LPs think the use of AI will become significant in private equity investment processes in the next five years, according to Coller Capital’s Global Private Equity Barometer Summer 2023, published Monday.