Qatari Cash in NYC Meets Hong Kong Money to Back Wealth Firm

(Bloomberg) -- LJ Partnership, a London-based wealth manager armed with money from the Persian Gulf, is targeting global expansion, as rich families and sovereign funds increasingly team up to invest outside of the public markets.

Dilmun, a family office in New York that originated in the Gulf region, this week acquired a 40 percent stake in LJ Partnership, which advises on $15 billion from about 250 clients, including individuals, families and foundations. The deal unites Dilmun with a Hong Kong real estate family that’s expanded into China and the U.K.

Dilmun manages money for a member of the Qatari royal family, people with knowledge of the matter said, asking for anonymity to discuss information that isn’t public. LJ Partnership already has close ties to the Peterson Group, which acquired 20 percent of the firm in 2016. Peterson, led by Tony Yeung and best known for investments in Hong Kong real estate such as the LKF Tower hotel, has since increased its stake to 35 percent.

“It’s been very important for us to match long-term capital from Asia, particularly Hong Kong, from the Gulf, Europe and the Americas,” said Alex de Meyer, who was promoted to LJ Partnership’s chief executive officer alongside the investment. The firm, which is rebranding to Alvarium Investments next year, will seek to attract large institutions and sovereign wealth funds that can increase its firepower in making investments, particularly in real assets. In a phone interview, de Meyer declined to comment on Dilmun’s backers.

Rich families globally are eschewing traditional wealth management and seeking to make more direct investments, often with like-minded peers or other entities that can invest for the long term. By working together, they can take a more active role in controlling their investments and bypass fees charged by private equity and real estate managers.

LJ Partnership clients include individuals, families and foundations. In addition to direct deals, it provides traditional investment-management advice as well as trust and family office services.

The firm was formed in 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when property prices had slumped and trust between banks and their clients had deteriorated. It’s grown in part by acquiring units once owned by Guggenheim Partners and Deloitte Investment Advisors. Its been particularly active in European real estate, and intends to build its presence in North America and to look for opportunities in other asset classes including private equity, private debt and technology, de Meyer said.

Costa Hired

In conjunction with the investment, Ken Costa, the ex-chairman of Lazard International, and former Qatar Investment Authority mergers-and-acquisitions chief Ali Bouzarif were named partners and executive board members in the venture, with Costa also becoming co-chairman.

Both men have close ties to the Gulf nation. Bouzarif left QIA early last year to join a family office run by a member of Qatar’s ruling family, people said at the time. Costa has previously represented members of the Qatari royal family and its sovereign wealth fund.

“This is traditional merchant banking reinvigorated,” said de Meyer.

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