Former North Carolina RE head joins Meadow Partners

The New York-based private equity real estate firm has hired Alison Garcia, who previously backed it as a limited partner, in a newly-created role.

Alison Garcia, formerly the director of real estate at the North Carolina Retirement System, has moved into a new position at Meadow Partners.

Garcia joined the New York-based private equity real estate firm earlier this month as principal and head of business development and investor relations, a newly-created role where she will focus on capital raising and client relationships.

Her primary objective will be to expand and diversify Meadow’s existing investor base, which currently consists primarily of foundations and endowments, Garcia said in an interview with PERE. She will be seeking at least one new investor that can write large checks for funds.

“Having a good balance is important for any investment manager,” she noted. “Some managers only had foundations and endowments and when they pulled back post-GFC, it was hard for them to fundraise. Same for those firms that only had the CalPERS and CalSTRS of the world. It’s important to have a diverse investor base.”

Existing investors with Meadow’s funds include NCRS, United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and the University of Texas Investment Management Company.

Garcia initially will concentrate on expanding the firm’s core-plus strategy – which currently consists of its Meadow London Core-Plus Fund, a two-tranche separate account with NCRS – to include a New York-focused separate account or club vehicle.

NCRS previously committed $60 million to Meadow Real Estate Fund II, $100 million to Meadow Real Estate Fund III and $270 million to the London core plus separate account, according to its fiscal year 2015-16 annual investment report, its most recent available. As of June 30, 2016, Fund II was generating an internal rate of return of 22.18 percent, Fund II was producing a 27.31 percent return and the core-plus account was earning a -14.54 percent return.

Garcia had worked the last six years at NCRS and served the last three as real estate director. Prior to joining the pension system, she held senior investment roles at investment management firms such as CommonWealth Partners and MetLife Investment Management, among others.

Her departure is the latest change to the NCRS investment staff since the new state treasurer, Dale Folwell, was sworn in in January. In July, Kevin SigRist, NCRS’s chief investment officer, announced his resignation after four years with the pension system. The following month, Jeff Smith and Christopher Morris were appointed interim directors of NCRS’s investment management division.

NCRS did not respond to inquiries on whether it had hired a replacement for Garcia and a permanent replacement for SigRist at press time.

The pension system had $95 billion in assets as of August 8, of which 3.69 percent was in non-core real estate and 4.92 percent was in non-core real estate, according to its second-quarter investment report. For the fiscal year ending June 30, NCRS earned an overall 10.8 percent, while non-core and core real estate returned 11.2 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Meadow was founded in 2009 by former Westbrook Partners managing principal Jeffrey Kaplan. As of March 28, the firm had nearly $2 billion of assets under management.