Morgan Stanley AIP Private Markets CIO to depart – exclusive

Neil Harper, who has been at Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners since 2006 and oversees its secondaries business, is the unit's second senior departure in six months.

The chief investment officer of Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners Private Markets is set to leave the bank, Secondaries Investor has learned.

London-based managing director Neil Harper is in the process of leaving the firm, according to two sources familiar with the matter. It is understood that Harper is staying in the private equity industry.

AIP Private Markets is involved in strategies including private equity fund investing, private equity secondaries, co-investments and impact investing, according to Morgan Stanley’s website. The unit sits within the bank’s investment management business.

Harper is a three-decade veteran of the industry who joined Morgan Stanley in 2006. His last day at the unit, which had committed around $18 billion to private markets as of 30 September, is not clear.

His move follows the departure in November of executive director and private markets investment committee member Kumber Husain, who is now head of private equity Americas at DWS, as Secondaries Investor reported.

Morgan Stanley AIP is a Conshocken, Pennsylvania-headquartered investment manager that makes fund commitments, secondaries investments and co-investments across the private equity, real estate, venture capital and mezzanine asset classes.

In a February paper titled The Rise of Transformational Secondaries, the firm outlined its three-pronged investment approach to secondaries: identifying efficiency-producing businesses with exposure to stable end markets; partnering with highly-aligned and specialised investment partners; and seeking value with businesses exhibiting high cashflow generation and conservative leverage.

In January, the firm announced the close of Ashbridge Transformational Secondaries Fund I and flagship fund of funds vehicle Private Markets Fund VII, with aggregate commitments of $1.9 billion. Ashbridge backs restructurings and other types of complex secondaries deals.

In January, Harper told Secondaries Investor that an economic downturn in 2019 could have positive implications for the volume of GP-led transactions.

“Strategic buyers for mature portfolio companies may hold back, valuations may moderate and LPs in older vintage year funds may have a more pressing need for liquidity,” he said.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment.