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FRONTLINE

News on professional service providers to the private equity market.

Advanced Capital chooses eFront
Italian alternative investment manager Advanced Capital has chosen eFront's FrontInvest services to support its fund of funds operations. Advanced Capital manages more than $600 million in assets for a range of investors including institutional investors and private banking clients. The firm had sought to replace its spreadsheets and email-based tools with a more sophisticated information system covering portfolio and investor management, fundraising, investor web-based reporting and document management. eFront provides business software to firms in areas such as private equity, alternative investments and risk management in more than 20 countries. The company last year introduced its newest version FrontInvest 6.1, including accounting enhancements based on new GAAP standards and an updated user interface. In November South Afric's Public Invest Corporation chose FrontInvest to support its private equity operations, in addition to the European Fund Administration in October.

BerchWood names new London associate
Global private equity placement agent BerchWood Partners has appointed Alexander Chaplin as an associate in its London office, part of a recent hiring spree in the last year during which the firm added three private equity professionals to its London and New York branches. The firm also plans to establish an office in Asia in the near future. Chaplin has previously worked as an analyst for MVision Private Equity Advisors on all aspects of fundraising, with a focus on venture capital, buyout and infrastructure in Western Europe and the emerging markets. BerchWood also has offices in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, and its professionals have raised over 52 funds valued at more than $31 billion for fund managers focused on buyout, venture and secondary strategies. The firm had previously added former Bridgepoint Capital director James Wakefield to its London office as a senior advisor last year.

Loughlin Meghji creates finance group
Financial advisory firm Loughlin Meghji + Company has made three senior appointments as part of the creation of a new corporate finance group. Charles Smith, Adam Sell and Sameer Khambadkone will focus on assisting clients with corporate finance-related issues such as capital structure advisory, debt facility amendments and restructurings, capital raising and acquisition/ divestiture advisory. They will focus in part on companies with solid operating performance that are facing financing-related issues in the current recession, as well as companies that are facing operating difficulties. All three previously worked for JPMorgan securities and helped manage leveraged finance executions for private equity groups and their portfolio companies. James Loughlin, founding principal of LM+Co, said in a statement that the new appointments would help meet the increase in distressed situations resulting from the abundance of loose credit available during the credit bubble of 2006-2007. The New York-based firm provides a number of consulting services focused on under-performing and distressed companies facing financial and operational challenges.

Close Brothers expands UK services with new hire
European independent corporate finance adviser Close Brothers has appointed John Paul McGrath as a new managing director to expand its European financial services (FIG) sector coverage team into the UK. Based in London, McGrath and his team will complement Close Brothers' existing FIG services in France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. McGrath joins Close Brothers from NM Rothschild & Sons where he has focused on financial services since 1999. His past experience includes advising Fabien Pictet & Partners in relation to a dispute with The Ukraine Opportunity Trust, advising Credit Agricole on the disposal of Phoenix Metrolife, AMP/Henderson on its demerger, the Rothschild family on the disposal of Rothschild Asset Management and Charterhouse on the disposal of Charterhouse Securities. McGrath is the sixth senior hire Close Brothers has made in the last twelve months and forms part of its continued European expansion. Close Brothers also recently appointed Robert Imbert and David Muncaster, formerly of UBS Wealth Management, as director of intermediary sales and director of intermediary relationships, respectively. The appointments are part of the firm's rollout of its new discretionary fund management services to advisors.

Augentius promotes Europe COO to partner
Augentius Fund Administration, a specialist provider of fund administration services to the private equity and property fund sectors, has promoted Ian Kelly to partner. Kelly joined Augentius in August 2002 as a senior fund accountant. He was appointed as chief operating officer, Europe, in 2006 following the management buyout of the business. “Ian has made a very substantial contribution to the business,” said JP Harrop, managing partner. “Ian has grown with Augentius and developed from his initial role into someone who is a recognised leader within the firm.” Among its services, Augentius assists in fund establishment, tailors call letters and reports to individual GP requirements, produces quarterly reports for LPs, acts as a liaison for offshore funds and prepares annual financial statements.

FD launches European restructuring communication practice
Financial and corporate communications consultancy FD has launched a European Restructuring & Recapitalisation communications practice. The new practice will provide employee communications and industrial relations, wider stakeholder communications and change management consultancy, lender, bondholder and investor relations consultancy, critical media relations consultancy and execution, crisis management and contingency planning, litigation and dispute communications, political and policy maker communications (EU, national and local), regulatory advisory support around critical issues such as regulatory intervention and EU policy in areas such as anti-trust, market reform and State Aid, and specific resources to manage communications associated with insolvency processes. The team will be overseen by FD chief executive Charles Watson. It will be operationally led jointly by senior managing directors Giles Sanderson and Jonathan Hawker and currently comprises over 30 senior professionals drawn from FD's specialist communications practice areas and industry sector teams across its European and global office network.

Northern Trust wins New Zealand contract
Northern Trust, a provider of investment, asset and fund administration services, has been appointed global custodian to the New Zealand Debt Management Office (NZDO), with responsibility for providing core custody and related services to the NZDO's book of fixed-income assets of $2.2 billion. NZDO is part of the New Zealand Treasury and is responsible for the management of the Crown's debt and associated assets within an appropriate risk management framework. It managed $20.5 billion of assets on behalf of the Crown for the year ended 30 June 2008. Based in Chicago, Northern Trust has offices in North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region, with assets under investment management of $625.4 billion. A Northern Trust official said in a statement that the deal in New Zealand is part of the firm's effort to grow its business in the region with large, sophisticated investors.

Willis launches management software
Willis Re, the US reinsurance arm of global broker Willis Group Holdings, recently launched a new web-based portfolio management and risk analysis platform intended to help analysts, risk managers and corporate executives quantify exposure, evaluate underwriting effectiveness and plan for catastrophic events. The Willis conNext software will offer services such as enterprise data mining and reporting, charting and profiling tools and interactive web capabilities. Willis Group Holdings offers insurance, risk management and financial consulting services to corporations, public entities and institutions in nearly 120 countries. The firm recently appointed Adam Garrard as chief executive officer of Willis Continental Europe and Bill Donovan as his successor as CEO of Willis Australasia.

Mourant appoints US fund administration head
Third-party accounting and administration firm Mourant International Finance Administration has appointed John Wiencek as managing director of its New York office and head of US fund administration. Wiencek has more than two decades of experience in the funds market and has worked at companies including Coopers & Lybrand, SS&C Technologies and BISYS. Mourant CEO Ian Lambert said in a statement that Wiencek's experience working for blue-chip firms would be an asset during the current time of increased demand for third-party solutions within the alternative investment industry. Mourant provides fund and limited partner accounting, reporting and administrative services to clients from its offices in Cayman, Dublin, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey, London, Luxembourg, New York, San Francisco and Singapore, with plans for further expansion expected in 2009. It is currently responsible for administering funds with committed capital of more than $170 billion. The Royal Bank of Canada last December signed an agreement to acquire Mourant Private Wealth, the 47-strong private client trust business of Mourant.

CP Eaton adds to Shanghai office
Global placement agent CP Eaton Partners has added Alex Edwards to its Shanghai office as executive vice president, bringing its staff size to six. Edwards will lead the company's development in Australia, New Zealand and South Asia out of the office, which operates as a base for the firm's Asia-Pacific business development. Edwards has 14 years of international experience in the financial services industry, 10 of which were spent in the Asia-Pacific region, the firm said. He joins from Franklin Templeton where he was based in Hong Kong and London. Before that, Edwards was a vice president at investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston and worked in London, Zurich, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney and New York. He began his career with MLC, the wealth management division of the National Australia Bank in Sydney. The firm opened the Shanghai office – its only location in Asia – in November 2007, and has successfully launched four independent Asia-dedicated funds. CP Eaton recently acted as the placement agent for Asia Alternatives, one of the first independent Asian private equity fund of funds, on its $950 million final closing, $100 million more than originally targeted. The firm has raised more than $30 billion in capital for 54 funds, and is currently in the market with 11 funds in areas including core capital assets, distressed debt, Western European real estate and fund of hedge funds. In addition to growing its Shanghai office, it also appointed three new professionals to its London branch late last year.