Hamilton Lane, high-profit pension adviser, rises from IPO price

Shares of Hamilton Lane Inc., the 280-person, Bala Cynwyd-based investment adviser that keeps nearly 50 cents of every $1 in fees it collects from pension funds and other clients, have risen since its March 1 initial public stock offering under the HLNE ticker on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The stock debuted at $16, and changed hands at $18.78 just before noon, up 9 cents for the day.

The sale raised $203 million for the company and its top managers, including chief executive Mario Giannini and chief investment officer Erik Hirsch, among others. The managers still control 37% of Hamilton Lane shares. 

Hamilton Lane said Monday the company and the insiders sold a total of 13.656 million shares in its IPO, led by JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley and aided by Goldman Sachs & Co. as lead co-manager, with Keefe Bruyette & Woods, Wells Fargo Securities and Freeman & Co. also selling the shares.  

The firm employs 90 investment professionals and 190 support staff in 11 U.S. and foreign offices, manages $40 billion in client investments, and advises clients on where to put $274 billion.

The company has profited in its niche advising pension plans and other large investors how to divide their assets among publicly-traded and privately-managed investments. Pension plans have generally fallen behind their targets over the past decade, as low interest rates dragged down bond yields and hedge funds often failed to perform as expected.

But advisers who recommend what funds to buy still command premium prices for their services: Hamilton Lane says it earned $71 million in after-tax profits last year, on sales of $155 million. That's up from $67 million, on sales of $140 million, in 2014. 

When it filed to sell shares earlier this winter, Hamilton Lane told the SEC it plans to use public shareholders' cash to buy out some of the shares held by Hirsch and other insiders, and "for general corporate purposes."