Posted - 15 Mar 2012 16:55 GMT
updated - 15 Mar 2012 17:07 GMT
Heavyweight LP heads to Saudi fund
John Breen, former head of private equity fund investing and secondaries at CPPIB, is taking on an investment role with Saudi Arabia’s state investment fund.
John Breen, the former fund investing and secondaries expert at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is joining the Saudi Arabian Investment Company (Sanabil al-Saudia), Saudi Arabia’s state investment vehicle.
Breen will join the group as a senior executive investment officer, a role that will start in April, he told Private Equity International in an email Thursday. Breen didn’t describe his exact role with Sanabil and it’s not clear if he will focus exclusively on private equity; however, one person with knowledge said Breen’s role will be global head of direct investments and will include private equity as well as other asset classes.
Breen’s hiring comes a few months after Sanabil brought on board former Morgan Grenfell Private Equity executive Scott Lanphere, who joined last October as head of direct investments. Lanphere ended his role at Sanabil in December, according to sources and his LinkedIn page. He declined to comment.
Sanabil did not return requests for comment.
Breen joined CPPIB in 2006 and left the Canadian pension system last year. While it’s not clear why he left, CPPIB like other Canadian pension systems including the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System has been shifting its private equity programme over the past few years from fund investments to direct investments.
[Sanabil] is a young, very well capitalised, independent, returns-driven entity which is based in Riyadh with a global mandate for investing across asset classes to optimise risk adjusted returns.
Earlier this month, Martin Day, the former fund investments specialist at OMERS PE, confirmed he had left the pension system in part because of the ongoing shift to direct investment exposure.
Breen played a major role in the formation of the Institutional Limited Partners Association private equity principles. The principles were meant as a way to better align the interests of LPs and general partners and include things like ensuring fees are not used as profit centers and that GPs start to collect carried interest only after LPs have been fully paid back committed capital plus a preferred return.
The Saudi Arabian government formed Sanabil in 2008 as an investment arm of the country’s Public Investment Fund. The sovereign wealth fund was formed in 1971, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. Sanabil has an asset management business and a direct investment operation. The direct investment side is where the organisation plans to build the bulk of its private equity exposure, up to $4.5 billion worth, according to a source with knowledge of the organisation.
“[Sanabil] is a young, very well capitalised, independent, returns-driven entity which is based in Riyadh with a global mandate for investing across asset classes to optimise risk adjusted returns,” Breen wrote in the email.
Another high-profile LP, Réal Désrochers, worked at Sanabil as chief investment officer prior to taking over as head of the alternative investment programme at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System last year.
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