Harvard Loses Private Equity Chief to Fidelity Family Office

Ice hockey star Lane MacDonald is leaving his alma mater.

(February 13, 2014) — Lane MacDonald has left the Harvard endowment, just two months after taking over as head of its private equity unit, to run investments for Fidelity-founders, the Johnson family.

The move by MacDonald, who joined the endowment in 2008, was revealed by a spokesman for the Fidelity group and was initially reported by the Boston Globe.

MacDonald will be running the family office and managing assets on behalf of the Johnson family, which founded and has remained a major shareholder in the global fund management group. The family office is run under the name the Crosby Company of New Hampshire and MacDonald will be its president.

In October last year, the Harvard Management Company (HMC) announced MacDonald would be taking over as head of private equity to “play a lead role in assessing and reshaping” its portfolio in December.

At the time, HMC President and CEO Jane Mendillo said: “With the right leadership, this is an asset class that presents unique opportunities for attractive returns. I am confident that the experience Lane brings to his new position will enable HMC to focus its resources to deliver sustained excellence and market outperformance.”

With the promotion, he had returned to private equity, the section he joined in 2008 as in 2012 he had been raised to become managing director of HMC’s public markets platform, where he oversaw HMC’s investments with external managers.

MacDonald, a Harvard alumnus, represented the US in the 1988 Winter Olympics as captain of its ice hockey team. That year, the USSR took the gold medal.

He has also had a substantial career in finance, with more than 10 years of investment experience before joining HMC.

In January, a former member of Stanford University’s endowment team now a doctoral candidate at Harvard Business School published a paper setting out some of the problems with private equity investment.

Kyle Welch said pre-crisis accounting measures masked the correlation between public and private equity returns, and led investors to believe they are getting better returns than they really are.

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