Allstate is gearing up for 2017 with six new executives it hired to help boost returns and widen the reach of its alternative investment portfolio. They will pursue what the insurer refers to as “opportunistic investments.”

The team, hired in 2016, includes veterans of Macquarie Capital, AEG Partners and JPMorgan. They’ll focus on developing nontraditional capital and liquidity options across asset classes, industries and geographies.

Russ Mayerfield, senior managing director and head of alternative and private investments at Allstate, explained in prepared remarks that the new hires “are part of Allstate’s ongoing initiative to increase the returns and scope of the alternative investment portfolio, which presently includes private equity, real estate, infrastructure and agribusiness.”

The team leader is Mick Solimene, a 30-year veteran of “special situations investing,” Mayerfield said. Solimene was most recently senior managing director and head of the restructuring and special situations group at Macquarie Capital. While there, he oversaw the Chicago office and led a business that provided capital and transaction products and services to companies with complex balance sheet needs, Allstate said.

“Allstate’s opportunistic strategy seeks to capitalize on pockets of inefficiency that occur due to misunderstood or complex facts, volatile capital market conditions, changing regulatory frameworks, rapid change or other factors,” Solimene said in repared remarks. “I look forward to extending Allstate’s relationship-based approach and leveraging its broad investment experience into this segment of the market.”

Before joining Macquarie Capital in 2007, Solimene was a managing director at Giuliani Capital Advisors, where he ran the restructuring group and was a member of the board of directors and commitments committee. He also has previously held leadership positions at Ernst & Young Corporate Finance and Bank of America.

The other members of Allstate’s Opportunistic Investments Team:

  • Phil Van Winkle, managing principal. Van Winkle most recently served as a managing director at AEG Partners and AEG Capital, where he provided investment banking services to companies undergoing balance sheet restructurings and recapitalizations. He has more than 30 years of professional experience as a principal investor, investment banker, restructuring/turnaround adviser and management consultant. His career includes roles at Harmony Holding Partners, Macquarie Capital, Bank of America and McKinsey & Co.
  • Chris Brown, managing principal. Brown has 25 years of professional experience, including structuring, trading and managing investments in credit opportunities funds, as well as providing restructuring advisory services. His career includes roles at SOLIC Capital Management, Ritchie Capital Management, PPM America and Bank of America.
  • Ashok Vishnubhakta, principal. Vishnubhakta has more than 12 years of professional experience focused on fundamental analysis, deal structuring and negotiation across opportunistic and special situations investing, as well as restructuring advisory services. His career includes roles at GE Capital and Macquarie Capital.
  • Alex Hunstad, senior associate. Hunstad previously was a private equity associate at Water Street Healthcare Partners and an investment banking analyst in the global financial sponsors and M&A groups at Barclays Capital.
  • Amy Zhang, senior associate. Zhang previously was an investment banking credit risk analyst focused on the insurance sector at JPMorgan.

Typical investment sizes range from $25 million to $100 million, and the team can execute through both the primary and secondary markets.

Source: Allstate