CHICAGO -- After just two years, Capital Resource Advisors, the former Chicago-based consulting unit of SEI Investments, has been sold again.
Notre Capital Ventures II, Houston, sold its controlling interest to VIP Group LP, a privately held limited partnership established by investment bankers Value Investing Partners Inc., New York.
There have been several notable staff departures in the past two years -- most recently managing director, John Angley, who went to Driehaus Capital Management Inc., Chicago, as director of sales Sept. 1.
Keith McDowell, a senior consultant in CRA's King of Prussia, Pa., office, also left last November to start his own firm,
But the institutional client list -- which numbers 400 with more than $400 billion in assets -- has remained loyal and is in fact growing, said CRA's new chief executive officer, C.R. "Sonny" Tucker. Mr. Tucker spent 27 years at Shell Oil Co., Houston, most recently as director of investment planning for Shell's pension fund. He retired from Shell in 1994.
CRA handled more than 65 manager searches so far this year, and will have placed $1 billion in new mandates by year end, spokeswoman Karen Byrnes said.
One new client is the $25 million Lumpkin Foundation, Mattoon, Ill.
CRA also got a new assignment from existing client Elmhurst Hospital, Elmhurst, Ill. CRA has been the consultant for the hospital's $120 million pension fund and in September was hired to provide investment consulting services for $230 million in operating funds, said Jack Doyle, the hospital's chief financial officer.
CRA primarily services pension plans with between $50 million and $1 billion in assets. Other clients are: Sonoma County Employees' Retirement System, Santa Rosa, Calif.; SCANA Corp., Columbia, S.C.; Masonic Homes of California, Newport MDNMBeach; Maritrans Operating Partners LP, Philadelphia; and Good Shepherd Home, Allentown, Pa.
One Chicago money manager, who asked not to be identified, said CRA has "a huge list of clients and (is) handling a lot of pension money. You have to pay attention to them."
Perception of unrest
Still, the company had been plagued by the perception of unrest before SEI sold it.
It took SEI nearly two years to make a sale, with several last-minute sale cancellations clogging up the process until Notre Capital Ventures and William Nicholson, formerly head of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette's asset consulting group, bought the firm in 1997.
Mr. Nicholson served as chief executive officer, a job Mr. Tucker has taken over.
Mr. Nicholson will be vice chairman, and will stay on as vice chairman and will head sales and marketing to high-net worth individuals.
Kevin Greene, chairman of VIP, said his company had been looking for some time to acquire a pension consulting firm because "we think there is tremendous need for this in the marketplace and we found, after careful study, the business of pension consulting to be very attractive and profitable."
Mr. Green's parent company, Value Investing Partners, provides investment banking services and research to institutional clients, primarily pension funds, and the move to consulting was natural.
Internet client service
Steve Harter, president of Notre Capital Ventures, declined to comment regarding the sale; terms were not disclosed.
Among new initiatives, said Mr. Tucker, are Internet client service programs for institutional investors.
CRA will become, if anything, more client-focused, Mr. Tucker said. "Our business is client-driven. We will be going to all of our clients and asking what they need from us and what directions they want us to take," he said.