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Tulane searches for director of private markets(2)

The $1bn university endowment has been reaping access to top-tier managers since the financial crisis, led by private markets head Sam Masoudi.

Tulane University’s endowment is searching for a new director of private markets investing, which includes private equity and real assets.  The director will help to source new managers and monitor the existing portfolio.

The $1 billion endowment’s current head of private markets, managing director Sam Masoudi, will continue to spend some of his time as head of private investments but will expand his focus to all other asset classes and broader portfolio issues. Masoudi joined the university endowment in 2008 after working as a portfolio manager at a hedge fund and prior to that at buyout fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

Tulane’s endowment has a 15 percent target allocation to private equity, and 10 percent to real assets. Private equity gained about 18.4 percent in fiscal year 2011, beating its benchmark by 1.8 percent, according to Tulane’s annual report.

Sam
Masoudi

“Returns were driven by strong results in buyout and venture capital, reflecting the rebound in the public markets, improved credit conditions and a re-opening of the IPO market,” the report said. “Performance of distressed funds was more muted.”

Tulane’s real assets portfolio performed even better, though representing a smaller percentage of total investments, gaining 21.3 percent in fiscal year 2011 and beating its benchmark by 1.8 percent. The portfolio is heavily exposed to oil and gas, commodities and real estate.

“Rising oil prices led to double digit returns in the portfolio’s oil and gas funds,” the report said. “Real estate assets staged a double digit rebound after two very difficult years.”

The endowment has invested in private equity since 1990 and does not use an external consultant for the asset class, like many other institutional investors.

In recent years, the endowment has been able to access top-tier managers because of the financial downturn and subsequent fundraising crunch, Masoudi told Private Equity International in a prior interview.

“It’s been good for us,” Masoudi said in 2010. “We have found that the top decile funds that we target are still able to raise funds quickly and are oversubscribed, but want to diversify their investor base and are finding room for some new LPs.

“Most other funds, especially those with short records, have been struggling to raise capital,” he said.