Houlihan Lokey, the international investment bank, has launched a practice focused on intermediating illiquid financial assets on a global basis.
The illiquid financial asset (IFA) practice will incorporate the firm’s existing secondary advisory (SA) group and will build upon Houlihan Lokey’s transactions with banks, insurance companies and other asset-heavy financial institutions seeking to dispose of loan pools, liquidating hedge funds, stalled private equity funds, limited partnership interests, minority equity positions, life settlements, pharmaceutical royalties, operating leases, and intellectual property among other illiquid asset classes.
The newly configured practice will be led by secondary advisory group co-heads Jeff Hammer and Paul Sanabria and will add staff in New York, London, and Hong Kong with the team more than doubling in size during the current year.
“Our goal is to become the leading global intermediary for illiquid financial assets,” says Irwin Gold, executive chairman of Houlihan Lokey. “We believe that our industry-leading practices in financial restructuring, valuation, and M&A, and our global footprint of 17 offices on three continents position us to take advantage of this exciting market opportunity.”
The maturation of the hedge fund and private equity industry, coupled with the depth of the recent financial crises, has created significant dislocations and lucrative investment opportunities for alternative capital investors, healthy financial institutions, and sophisticated institutional investors. Recent years have seen investors and ultra-high-net-worth family groups seeking to buy, sell, or finance portfolios of illiquid financial assets.
“Investors are increasingly seeking exposure across asset classes. Traditional private equity investors are buying credit. Traditional credit investors are buying life settlements. Convergence in the secondary market is accelerating,” says Hammer. “By expanding across asset classes and integrating across markets, we are creating a global centre of excellence with unique attributes: global distribution, unmatched market intelligence, state-of-the-art solutions, and best execution,” he continued.
As part of this expansion, Dilip Awtani will join the firm on 1 October as managing director based in London, reporting to Hammer and Sanabria. Prior to joining the firm, Awtani was a managing director and head of European distressed loan, debt and structured product investments at Colony Capital. Prior to Colony, Awtani spent nearly six years at GE Commercial Finance, most recently serving as head of its European NPL and distressed assets business.