McKinley Capital buys research firm McDowell Group

  • McDowell Group Principal and former state Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell and McKinley Capital Management CEO Rob Gillam. (Left Photo/Courtesy/McDowell Group; Right Photo/Michael Dinnen/For the Journal)

One of Alaska’s premier investment companies is branching out with the purchase of one of the state’s go-to research firms.

Anchorage-based McKinley Capital Management announced Jan. 29 that it has acquired McDowell Group, which has offices in Anchorage and Juneau.

A statement from McKinley Capital regarding the purchase says McKinley will use McDowell’s nearly 50 years of multidisciplinary research experience to form a new economic research and consulting arm at McKinley that will be led by McDowell principal and former state Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell.

McKinley Capital CEO Rob Gillam said combining the businesses under the new research unit will, among other things, help improve McKinley’s ability to better market the benefits of investing in Alaska.

“This acquisition is great for McKinley Capital, for McDowell Group and for Alaska,” Gillam said in a prepared statement. “It provides McKinley Capital with a new business unit and complimentary capacity; it provides a long-term ownership plan and expanded clientele for McDowell; and it strengthens and solidifies two Alaska businesses, which together proved more than 60 high-paying jobs.”

The companies did not disclose a price for the transaction.

Gillam has stressed his firm’s focus on data-focused investment strategy in multiple interviews with the Journal since taking over the company from his late father and company founder Bob Gillam in October 2018.

McKinley manages a roughly $5 billion global investment portfolio, according to Gillam.

McDowell has long been a primary choice for Alaska trade associations seeking to quantify the economic impact of their respective industries. The firm has also conducted extensive analysis of the state’s health care system, education and transportation systems.

McDowell principal Jim Calvin called the move a “natural evolution” that gives the firm more opportunities to grow its business through McKinley’s connections.

“The research we do at McDowell goes hand-in-hand with McKinley Capital’s data-driven method of investing,” Bell added. “To lead McKinley Capital’s new economic research unit is an honor and I look forward to seeing how integrating McDowell and McKinley Capital will bring new possibilities to Alaska as a whole.”

The acquisition is another move that further puts McKinley’s business in the public light after decades of avoiding press coverage under Bob Gillam.

Last May, McKinley announced a partnership with the University of Alaska Lab for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence to mentor and provide students an area in the firm’s Anchorage office where they can work on AI and data science projects.

This past September, the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. announced McKinley had been selected to manage $100 million in the corporation’s new $200 million Alaska Investment Program, which seeks in-state investment opportunities for the nearly $67 billion Permanent Fund.

01/29/2020 - 10:25am