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Fundraising Poison: Having ‘Governor of NJ’ on Your Resume?
Chris Christie’s opportunity zone fund targeted $250 million — but has raised just $29 million.
Two former governors of New Jersey are striking out at gathering money for new investment funds, according to SEC filings.
In January, Chris Christie set a $250 million target for his real-estate vehicle — Hampshire Christie Qualified Opportunity Fund. But the fund had gathered just $29.3 million as of October 10 and paid $7,000 in “sales commissions,” its latest regulatory filing shows, leaving $220.7 million left to go.
The last five months of asset-gathering produced only $11.3 million for Christie’s vehicle, which reported $18 million as of mid-May. At this rate, Christie will hit his $250 million target in the fall of 2027.
But he may not have that long to take full advantage of the federal tax break for development in so-called “opportunity zones,” or low-income areas. A year-end deadline is looming. Investments have to be made by December 31 for wealthy investors to reap the program’s full tax benefits, an expert said.
[II Deep Dive: Is Anyone Actually Investing in Opportunity Zone Funds?]
Jon Corzine is the other ex-New Jersey chief struggling to rouse investor interest. Corzine’s last firm, commodity futures broker MF Global, blew up in 2011 due to excessive leverage and poor risk management surrounding an ill-fated bet on European sovereign debt.
His attempted comeback vehicle — hedge fund firm JDC-JSC — had raised $53 million as of February, when it last filed with the SEC.
Since then, the regulator gave Corzine’s company an asterisk-laden approval to move forward, which may have led to capital inflows. But an informal poll of institutional allocators suggested otherwise.
“I wouldn’t let Corzine manage my laundry pick-up,” a public pension investment staffer told Institutional Investor in August. A foundation CIO concurred: “I wouldn’t meet with him.” Corzine is “untouchable. The MF Global thing was bad, bad, bad, bad.” The CIO went on to point out Corzine’s age, suggesting at 72 years old, the former Goldman Sachs co-chairman and New Jersey governor is past his investment prime.
Corzine handed over the governor’s office in 2010 to Christie, now 57, who served two terms and left office in early 2018.
Less than a year later, Christie partnered with a New Jersey-based firm — Hampshire Real Estate Companies — to issue a real-estate investment vehicle.
Hampshire’s president and CEO James Hanson declined to comment on fundraising matters when reached Monday, citing compliance strictures.