Courtland considers potential sale

The Cleveland, Ohio-based real assets consulting services firm is understood to have hired an investment banker in the past month.

Real asset advisor Courtland Partners has put itself on the market in the past month – and has already been attracting significant interest from potential buyers, sister publication PERE has learned.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based primarily real estate and infrastructure -focused consulting services firm is said to have tapped Ocean Park, a Los Angeles-based boutique investment bank, in the past month to oversee the potential sale.

PERE understands that Courtland has already received numerous offers from suitors, including Portland, Oregon-based investment consulting firm RVK.

Courtland emailed the following statement to PERE, but declined to elaborate further: “Courtland does not comment on rumors in the marketplace. The company has in the past and will continue to be open to discussions about industry partnerships that are value enhancing and consistent with our clients’ best interests and are in line with the company’s strategic objectives. More information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

RVK declined to comment and Ocean Park did not respond to requests for comment.

Courtland is now the second real estate consulting firm whose ownership is in play. Earlier this year, Colony NorthStar began the sale process for The Townsend Group and had received a dozen offers, with seven or eight bids advancing to the second round, PERE previously reported. Colony owns an 85 percent stake in the firm, while Townsend retains the remaining 15 percent. As of September 30, Townsend had $15 billion of assets under management and $173.1 billion of advised assets, according to the firm’s website.

Courtland, meanwhile, currently is 90 percent owned by the widow of co-founder Michael Humphrey who passed away unexpectedly in November, while chairman and managing principal Steven Novick holds a 10 percent interest in the firm, according to documents from the Santa Barbara County Employee Retirement System. However, the firm is the process of finalizing an equity participation plan in which other employees would acquire part of Humphrey’s interest.

Courtland was founded in 1995 by Humphrey, who previously was a senior consultant at The Townsend Group, and two other partners. In addition to its Cleveland headquarters, the 32-strong firm also has offices in Los Angeles and London.

Courtland is focused exclusively on real assets consulting, which includes real estate, infrastructure, timber and agriculture. The firm had $63.7 billion of advised assets and $1.9 billion of discretionary assets as of December 31, according to documents from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.