Nevada investment fund looking for deals, others’ cash

In their quest for strong profits and minimal risk, managers of a Nevada state investment fund are looking for deals — and others’ cash.

Hamilton Lane, the advisory firm that runs the $50 million Silver State Opportunities Fund, held an investor conference Thursday at Wynn Las Vegas.

Investors from about 30 firms and officials from some 50 companies were in attendance.

At least 70 percent of the fund must be spent on businesses that are in Nevada, aiming to expand here or have concrete plans to move here. Only one deal has been reached so far — $2 million for Reno-based Miller Heiman, a sales consulting firm.

“We’re looking for attractive investment opportunities,” Hamilton Lane Vice President Miguel Luiña told the audience.

The fund, created in 2011 with state education dollars, is expected to be used on energy, health care and technology companies, among others. It will be spent over the next four years, with any profits earmarked for K-12 education.

Up to $20 million of the fund will go to private equity and venture capital firms, which will then put the money into Nevada companies, and up to $35 million will be spent directly on five to 12 companies as part of broader investment deals with larger financiers.

The criteria might eventually soften, but for now, to obtain a direct investment from Hamilton Lane, a company must earn at least $10 million of annual revenue or have a business plan that can generate big income.

The company also must have experienced management, be focused on Nevada and be profitable, or at least have strong potential for profitability.

Fund officials also want to partner on those deals with outside investors who contribute more money to the companies than Hamilton.

“We’re trying to make investments that provide a very good return (and) provide some capital into Nevada, but you seek to mitigate those risks by following good financials,” said state Treasurer Kate Marshall, a key force behind the fund’s creation.