Simanovsky says he has carved out a niche since founding Conversant Capital in 2020.
The hybrid hedge fund firm, which has already grown to $1.5 billion in assets under management, invests across the capital structure in credit and equity, public and private companies, and real estate and adjacent sectors such as senior living and digital infrastructure.
Conversant earmarks as much as 35 percent of capital commitments for private investments with up to ten years of duration.
Its strategy is driven by the belief that a hybrid investment approach to real estate and related sectors offers a structural advantage, given that roughly 90 percent of real estate deals take place in the private markets.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper,” recalls Simanovsky, who grew up in Tennessee and was the first member of his Russian immigrant family born in the U.S. “It is a unique approach, which provides us a competitive advantage.”
Conversant invests in real estate companies and platforms, as opposed to single buildings or projects, as it sees partnering with and advising strong management teams as the best way to drive returns at scale.
Simanovsky says he was heavily influenced by his experiences at earlier jobs.
After graduating from Emory University with a BA in economics, he worked at investment bank Houlihan Lokey on the restructuring team, which subsequently moved to Rothschild. This is where he says he “learned the value of free cash flow and liquidity and what makes companies solvent,” as well as how to deal with management teams to navigate complex multiparty negotiations.
After three years, he moved over to investment giant Cerberus, where he saw the benefits of investing in both public and private markets and having a wide-open mandate.
Simanovsky then joined Senator Investment Group, where a nine-year tenure helping to build out opportunistic real estate investments across the capital structure culminated in his becoming partner. His group emphasized traditional commercial projects and nontraditional investments such as self-storage, marinas, gaming, lodging, cell towers, and data centers, among others.
Says Simanovsky: “We think there is always something to do, public or private, credit or equity.”