HarbourVest ramps up real assets secondaries with latest hire

Michael Dean, who led the real assets activities for advisory firm Meketa, has joined HarbourVest's secondaries investment team.

HarbourVest Partners has hired Michael Dean as a principal on the secondary investment team to increase the firm’s focus on real assets.

“We have been looking at investment opportunities in real assets for quite some time,” HarbourVest managing director Brett Gordon told Secondaries Investor’s sister publication Infrastructure Investor. “Given the growing number of opportunities, we feel that it justifies a dedicated effort.”

Dean joins HarbourVest from Boston consultancy and advisory firm Meketa Investment Group. Dean began working at Meketa in 2008 and was appointed head of real assets in March 2014. Previously, he worked as director of investments at private commercial real estate firm Ithecus Capital, according to his LinkedIn profile. Meketa declined to comment on whether it had found Dean’s replacement.

Michael Dean
Michael Dean

Dean will report to Gordon, who will lead the firm’s initial focus on real assets along with one of the firm’s other managing directors Fred Maynard.

For HarbourVest, real assets include energy, infrastructure, timber, mining, agriculture and real estate.

“How much we do in each is still yet to be determined but we’re expecting to build a platform that will give us expertise in all areas of real assets,” Gordon said.

Gordon said that initially the firm’s focus on real assets would be on secondaries, simply because of the opportunities seen so far. According to Gordon, the asset class has experienced consistent deal flow with more than $20 billion worth of deals realised in the past three or so years.

HarbourVest has found that the same people who are selling private equity fund stakes are also trying to sell real assets positions. However, unlike the private equity secondary market where there are lots of buyers and sellers, the real assets market lacks a competitive dynamic. There are a lot of sellers but fewer buyers.

“Now is the time to increase our efforts and increase our focus on real assets. We have some internal expertise already but we felt that we needed to strengthen that expertise and so as part of that we hired Mike Dean,” Gordon explained.

HarbourVest intends to grow the secondary team that will focus on real assets. HarbourVest’s most recent secondaries fund, Dover Street Fund VIII, closed on $3.6 billion in July 2013 and invests in private equity, venture capital and leveraged buyout assets.

HarbourVest also intends to carry out primary and direct investments in real assets as it does in private equity and the debt side of its business.