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Secondaries veteran adviser Mike Custar to jump ship to William Blair

Custar joined placement agent and advisory firm M2O to launch its secondaries business in 2017.

Mike Custar, a veteran of the secondaries advisory community who set up M2O’s secondaries business, is set to join boutique bank William Blair, Secondaries Investor and affiliate title Buyouts have learned.

Mike Custar
Custar: Will focus on GP-leds. Source: Credit Suisse

The move is part of a wave of mid-market investment banks bringing on secondaries talent to make sure they can offer sponsors the continuation fund option as part of an exit path. Several other banks are said to be similarly recruiting.

Custar is understood to be joining the investment bank with at least one other mid-level executive to launch a unit that will focus on GP-leds, according to eight sources familiar with the matter. Buyouts reported that William Blair was building capabilities around GP-led continuation funds.

Custar spent 13 years at Credit Suisse’s private fund group, where he was global head of secondaries advisory until 2017. In November of that year he joined White Plains-based M2O, which stands for “Made to Order.” The firm was formed by three executives who spun out from Jefferies’ fund placement group in 2012.

It’s not clear if M2O plans to promote from within or hire from the outside to move someone into Custar’s rule. The firm has won several mandates on GP-led deals and sales of LP portfolios over the past few months, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. That includes a process with Kaiser Permanente, which was selling a portfolio of LP stakes valued at about $1.5 billion, which has closed, sources said. Partners Luke Belcastro and Justin Puya did not respond to a comment request Wednesday.

Other mid-market investment banks expanding their capabilities include Guggenheim Securities, which hired Citi’s head of private capital advisory Orcun Unlu to rebuild its secondaries advisory function, the bank said last week.

Baird and Lincoln International have also begun to launch units, as Secondaries Investor reported, while Piper Sandler and Solomon Partners are also understood to be on the hunt. Rothschild and Morgan Stanley have also launched GP-led advisory businesses in the last 18 months.

GP-led deals have helped drive the market toward that record. GP-led volume reached an estimated $68 billion last year, accounting for 52 percent of total volume, according to Jefferies’ full-year secondaries volume report.

A spokesperson for William Blair declined to comment.

– Rod James and Adam Le contributed to this report.