Knightsbridge Faces Rebuilding After Exits –

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Following the decision of two of its three managing principals to leave, fund-of-funds manager Knightsbridge Advisers Inc. is in the process of rebuilding its senior management team. Managing Principals Paul Fetch and Brad Kelly along with Chief Operating Officer and Principal Joan Heidorn are leaving Knightsbridge to form a new venture. However, Kelly will stay on the management committee of the existing Knightsbridge vehicles until their liquidation, said Joel Romines, founder and managing principal.

During his time at Knightsbridge, Fetch had been responsible for spearheading the firm’s search for early-stage venture funds in which to invest, while Kelly had been in charge of the firm’s long-term operations and investor relations, Romines said. Heidorn’s most important role was as the firm’s compliance officer and head of operations on a day-to-day basis, Romines added. All three professionals were also on the firm’s investment committee.

Knightsbridge focuses on investing in early-stage venture capital partnerships, as well as making investments in what it calls the post-venture capital market, which is made up of newly public venture-backed companies in the post initial public offering period of high growth, he explained.

The trio’s new business will be in the same sort of area as Knightsbridge, said Kelly. “Whatever we do, it will involve early-stage venture capital,” he said, declining to provide any more specific details. The three professionals left the firm simply because they wanted to have the latitude to structure a firm and create a unique corporate culture, he added. “Sometimes you need to start over…rather than working on the same deals,” he noted.

No Hard Feelings

Romines also said their was no bitterness involved in the departures, rather some difference of opinion with respect to Knightsbridge’s future plans. He declined to elaborate. The firm is in the process of studying the early-stage venture and post-venture markets in order to determine what products it should develop to best deal with the current conditions, he added. “Whatever we do we will continue to offer fund-of-funds and tailored single client programs,” Romines said. “My priority has always been that Knightsbridge is committed to participating in emerging venture-backed technology companies from start-up to early growth years, so we will continue to build strong practices in both market sectors.”

The firm expects to announce a replacement for Fetch shortly, Romines said, noting the firm has a candidate it knows well in mind but cannot identify him yet. In addition, Knighstbridge will also bring on a principal-level professional to aid the new managing principal responsible for venture partnerships, he added. Knightsbridge will also shortly add a new principal to head investment, business development and investor relations, which is a new position at the firm. “This new business development position is something that has been under discussion for some time. We see it as a continuum of what we have been doing,” added Bill Coulter, a principal at the firm.

The firm will not add a new managing principal of operations until 2002, Romines said. “We are not in a hurry to do this, since Brad will continue on for existing vehicles and a new operations person is only key when we get to new vehicles,” he said. The firm closed its most recent vehicle, the $124 million Knightsbridge Post-Venture IV, in May, while the $500 million Knightsbridge Integrated Holdings V, which invest 80% of its capital in early-stage VC funds and 20% in post-venture plays, closed in November 2000.

The shuffling of the firm’s management team has not caused any concern among the firm’s limited partners, Romines said. “We believe the firm’s limited partners are most interested in insuring their investments are looked after by a strong, ongoing firm…and our investors have responded well because we have been around a long time,” he said.