Courtland creates succession plan – Exclusive

Michael Humphrey, a co-founder of the Cleveland, Ohio-based real assets consulting firm, will be selling part of his equity stake to three new equity owners.

Courtland Partners is preparing to implement a new succession plan that will see managing principal and co-founder Michael Humphrey sell part of his interest in the firm to three younger executives.

Humphrey and Steven Novick, principal and chief operating officer, currently are the sole equity owners in Courtland. Under the succession plan, Humphrey will sell part of his interest to three new principals: managing director Michael Murphy, managing director Gianluca Romano and vice president Andrew Mitro. Murphy and Mitro have been with the firm for 12 years and seven years, respectively, while Romano, who also heads up Courtland’s London office, joined three years ago.

The succession plan, which has been in development for the past nine months, will take effect on January 1.

“Steve and I are very much still actively involved in the firm and will continue to be, but the fact of the matter is, we need to bring in younger people to the ownership,” Humphrey told PERE. “We want to express reward for good performance, and we want people to pick up the mantle of responsibility… [for] the management of the firm and the client relationships.”

The size of the equity stake being sold to the three executives was not disclosed. However, PERE understands that Humphrey will retain a majority interest in Courtland. Novick’s stake remains unchanged.

Courtland was founded in 1995 by Humphrey, who previously was a senior consultant at The Townsend Group, and two other partners. In addition to its Cleveland, Ohio headquarters, the 30-strong firm also has offices in Los Angeles and London. Courtland is focused exclusively on real assets consulting, which includes real estate, infrastructure, timber and agriculture.

Separately, two Courtland executives will be leaving the firm. Jay Morgan, formerly a senior consultant, will be working with Courtland as a senior advisor until early next year. Morgan, who had been at the firm for five years, launched his own Cleveland-based firm, Superior Managers Group (SMG), earlier this month. SMG, for which he will also act as chief investment officer, is “a seeder/incubator for small and diverse managers executing specialized investment strategies in traditional and alternative asset classes,” according to his LinkedIn profile.

Morgan joined Courtland in September 2011 and also was director of research and a member of its investment committee. While at Courtland, he was primarily responsible for overseeing three real estate fund of funds that previously were part of Mesirow Financial’s real estate multimanager business, Mesirow Financial Institutional Real Estate (MFIRE), which the financial services firm exited in July 2015.

After shuttering the business, Mesirow subsequently transferred management of the existing MFIRE funds to Courtland, with Morgan acting as the lead portfolio manager. Because all three funds were fully committed, Courtland will be responsible for overseeing the management and eventual wind-down of the MFIRE portfolio.

Courtland has hired vice president Mitchell Bollinger, formerly an asset manager at KBS Realty Advisors, to assume Morgan’s research duties. Senior vice presidents Anthony Fragapane and Marc Rivitz will be taking over management of the MFIRE funds.

Meanwhile, managing director William Foster is also transitioning out of the firm after a seven-year tenure. It was unclear at press time what his next move will be.