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Funds of funds manager Verdis is taking what it calls an endowment approach to real estate.

Verdis Investment Management, an alternatives fund of funds manager based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, has launched a real estate platform led by Henry Delicata, who until August headed up real estate investment for the $3 billion (€2 billion) endowment of Vanderbilt University.

According to market sources, Verdis is in the market with a real estate fund of funds.

Vanderbilt's endowment has a 15 percent allocation to “real assets,” including real estate, timber, and oil and gas investments. Delicata oversaw some $600 million in commitments to 51 private equity real estate funds.

The newest member of a larger circle, Delicata joins a group of professionals at Verdis with previous experience investing for large endowments, including chief investment officer Scott Lupkas, a former managing director of Brown University's Investment Office, and vice president of finance Kevin Gaffey, who was previously a controller at Princeton University Investment Company.

“What I did at Vanderbilt was similar to what a fund of funds would do,” says Delicata.

“Basically, what we're doing here is duplicating the same kinds of investment strategy that endowments used, capitalizing on our experience [at these institutions]. We're basically modeling what we have done in a previous life, and what most of the larger endowments have done, overlaying that to Verdis.”

Verdis' investment team is supported by the Verdis Investment Advisory Committee, which includes chief investment officers from leading endowments responsible for combined assets of more than $5 billion.

Endowments have a longer timeframe to invest, says Delicata. This outlook is conducive to investments in the private equity real estate space. “Endowments have such a long horizon,” he says. “I think Harvard has been around for 350 years, and Vanderbilt was around for 150 years, so basically because of that timeframe and that long horizon, we can invest in instruments that have a longer life.”

A member of the Urban Land Institute, Delicata is also currently the real estate board member for the State of Tennessee Investment Advisory Board.