Privately held investment firm Cambridge Associates has changed its ownership structure for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Sofina — a Belgian investment company and longtime Cambridge client — has agreed to purchase about 20 percent of the company from its founders and the Rothschild and Hall families, Cambridge chairman and CEO David Druley told Institutional Investor. All will remain minority owners after the transaction closes.
“The end game for our founders has always been philanthropy,” Druley said of Hunter Lewis and James Bailey, who set up Cambridge as a research and advisory firm to institutions in 1973, and retired from day-to-day management years ago.
“Our founders are working through some estate planning issues, and looking to generate some liquidity on that front,” according to Druley. “The Halls and the Rothschilds will sell a portion of their stakes to diversify their holdings. This is really the next generation of our capital structure.”
[II Deep Dive: LSU Endowment Goes to Cambridge Associates]
Ownership stakes in Cambridge last changed hands via a major transaction in 2000. Staying private and independent has been critical to the firm’s success and its ongoing strategy, in Druley’s view.
He became CEO in 2016 after 13 years at Cambridge, making him the fourth chief executive since its founding.
“We believe that the way we’ve structured ourselves from an ownership perspective is a real advantage, and allows us to invest a significant amount of value in talent,” Druley said. “We’ve seen our competitors go out and try to jam two cultures together, or not think long-term about the business. And that’s just not a place we want to be.”
Several clients had expressed interest over the years in purchasing a stake in Cambridge, should one come available, according to the CEO. Sofina was among them.
Cambridge declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.