An Akron high profile developer has hired someone to look for new investors.
“I’ll be casting a wider net for investors not only in Northern Ohio, but in other geographies such as central and southern Ohio and Florida,” said Ed Matuszak, who is president of Advoca Equity, a new division of Signet Enterprises of Akron.
Signet, with offices in Florida, and Shanghai, does real estate deals, as well as corporate acquisitions locally and internationally.
Locally, Signet’s development arm is known for projects such as student housing at Northeast Ohio Medical University and the University of Akron, as well as the large building that houses SummaCare insurance at Main and Market streets downtown.
So far, most equity investors in Signet Enterprise deals have been a close-knit group: Those who work at Signet or the law firm of Brennan, Manna & Diamond LLC or have a connection to either.
Tony Manna, chairman of the law firm, founded Signet Enterprises in 1995.
“We used to fund these [development deals and other projects] ourselves,” Manna said. “But now we’re getting to the point that we’re getting so many and they are getting so large that we are going out to look for investors... putting this equity platform together.”
Advoca Equity, which Matuszak is heading, is housed in downtown Akron, in the old East Ohio Gas Building that is behind the law firm. Manna bought the building last year as part of a vision to create a hub of financial and business activity.
Matuszak, in prospecting for investors, said he will target wealthy — “high net worth” — individuals, wealth advisers, corporate pension funds, insurances companies, endowment funds and foundations. He also will talk with “family offices” — private entities that manage investments and trusts for wealthy families.
Matuszak, 51, believes investors are out there, despite the downturn in the commercial real estate market during the Great Recession.
“Signet’s history in real estate is so significant and well-known in this area,” he said. “The company’s credibility and trust factor is high because they’ve been doing this for so long.”
Signet’s efforts this year include four possible new local projects, Matuszak said. He said he can’t yet reveal details of these.
Matuszak, is a 20-year veteran in investment management.
He co-founded Lakefront Partners LP, a hedge fund in Beachwood, before joining Signet’s Advoca Equity.
The hedge fund closed in December 2011, Matuszak said, because the fund’s owner “wanted to go in a different direction and didn’t want to operate a hedge fund any longer.”
Matuszak received a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University and an undergraduate degree in finance and marketing from Ohio State University.
Advoca Equity operates as a subsdiary of Signet Enterprises’s Advoca Securities LLC.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or email@example.com.