NM Venture Cap Program Continues Losses

This isn’t how anyone would invest funds for their child’s college tuition and expenses.  But New Mexico, under the Richardson/Denish administration, has invested state funds in a fish company, an electric libretto designer (appropriately named “Figaro”) and a company that uses crushed glass to produce toilet bowl scrubbers (what, you don’t have one of those in your home?).  Nearly $400 million has been committed to a program most known for its bad bets on Eclipse Aviation and Advent Solar (remember them?)

The latest report shows not much has changed in this bad bet for taxpayers.  Word is the new State Investment Council and State Investment Officer are giving this Richardson favorite a much-needed hard look.  Here’s the report from New Mexico Watchdog.

State Investment Performance Cause for Concern

But the new members on the SIC, due to their independence from Governor Richardson, and the new State Investment Officer, who also has newfound independence from the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse, are also cause for hope.  The latest report from New Mexico Watchdog on what’s happening with our $14 billion in permanent funds.

New Mexico Loses Tens of Millions of Dollars in Investment Placed by Richardson Ally Correra (Again)

New Mexico lost nearly $40 million of its $55 million investment in Antares Investment Partners, a Greenwich, CT real estate investment trust. But Marc Correra, a Richardson ally, came out a lot better. As a third-party placement agent for the deal, he participated in $600,000 in fees.

The Greenwich Time concluded its investigation of Antares this past Sunday. In a section entitled “Land of Disenchantment,” the paper covered the State Investment Council’s experience with this shady operation:

The New Mexico State Investment Council, responsible for managing the state’s permanent trust funds, endowments, public education and general fund money, took a big hit because of toxic assets linked to Antares.

In 2005, New Mexico invested $55 million in a limited liability company, NorthStar SIC Holdings, that NorthStar infused into various real estate developments in its portfolio, including Antares, said Charles Wollmann, a spokesman for the State Investment Council.

“I do believe that investment went south,” Wollmann said.

New Mexico received a devastating $16 million capital return on its initial investment, which had seen its net asset value tank to $12.8 million as of the end of the first quarter of 2009, the most recent performance report available from the state.

“That’s not one that we’re happy with,” Wollmann said.

A message seeking comment from NorthStar was left Tuesday with an investor relations spokesman at the firm’s Manhattan office.

Wollmann said he was prevented from discussing New Mexico’s sour investment in NorthStar and Antares because litigation may be forthcoming. The state, he said, has “written-down” its Antares loss.

Marc Correra was the placement agent for the Northstar investment, which according to the SIC’s records (courtesy Heath Haussamen) actually amounted to nearly $90.25 million. Correra’s fees amounted to $576,917. A source in state government says the entire investment is now worthless.

Correra participated in $2 million in fees at third-party placement agent in another $90 million investment that “went south.” That is the investment, now worthless, in Vanderbilt Financial Trust. Story on that here from Trip Jennings at NM Independent.

Correra has been a generous contributor to Democrats. He gave $28,500 to Obama’s victory fund and the maximum personal contribution each to Tom Udall, Harry Teague and Ben Ray Lujan. In fact, it appears his contributions to Udall exceeded the legal limit by $1,250.