StepStone steps up secondaries business

The acquisition of a firm led by former Pomona and Hamilton Lane executives is the latest franchise expansion from the increasingly competitive San Diego-based private equity advisory firm.

San Diego-based private equity advisory firm StepStone Group has acquired secondaries upstart SilverBrook Private Equity, adding three veterans of the private equity secondaries market to the firm’s senior leadership.

Joining StepStone in its New York office will be Mark Maruszewski and Thomas Bradley, two veterans of Pomona Capital’s secondaries advisory business, as well as Michael McCabe, formerly a vice president at Hamilton Lane.

Maruszewski and Bradley left New York-based Pomona Capital earlier this year to pursue secondaries investing as an independent firm. The two later joined forces with McCabe, who had left Hamilton Lane in 2009 to form advisory platform Parkes Run.

In a statement, Maruszewski said: “We were in the process of building a very similar platform to that of StepStone. As discussions developed, it became clear that we had the same views on management and firm culture, so the best thing for both firms was to build it together.”

StepStone recently announced its involvement in a major secondaries transaction that will see the firm manage some $4 billion in private equity partnership interests, co-investments and “feeder fund” interests acquired from Citi in partnership with Lexington Partners.

In February, StepStone hired Johnny Randel, a former executive with Citi Private Equity, to serve in the newly created roles of chief financial and chief operating officer in New York.

The firm was founded in 2007 and is led by Monte Brem, the former president of Pacific Corporate Group (PCG), also based in the San Diego area. Prior to joining PCG, Brem was an attorney with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

StepStone advises institutional investors on their private equity programmes. The firm first entered the secondaries advisory fray at the end of 2008 when it hired James Gamett away from Portfolio Advisors. In a statement, Gamett said the addition of Maruszewski, Bradley and McCabe “materially expands” the firm’s secondaries capabilities.

Maruszewski and Bradley worked together at Pomona for 10 years before leaving to create SilverBrook. Maruszewski joined Pomona from Stratum Group, and Bradley came to the Pomona in 1998 from Hambrecht & Quist.

In addition to expanding its New York office, the firm has also recently made a big move in Asia with the hiring of Weichou Su to a new Beijing office. Su is a former executive with China-focused investment bank Hina Group.