(Bloomberg) -- Apollo Global Management Inc. is coming under increasing pressure as more institutional investors hold off committing fresh capital to the Wall Street giant.
Aksia, which advises on more than $160 billion of investor commitments, urged clients not to give money to Apollo amid lingering questions over co-founder Leon Black’s relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, according to people familiar with the matter. On Friday, Connecticut Treasurer Shawn Wooden said the state won’t commit new capital to the firm.
An adviser to pensions, endowments and other large institutions, Aksia has begun communicating the move to its clients, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Apollo said this week it was hiring law firm Dechert LLP to investigate the relationship.
“Aksia believes it is prudent to delay any new commitments or investments with Apollo funds until the results of Dechert’s study are disclosed,” Aksia said in a client communication, noting that its recommendation was effective as of Thursday. “Should Dechert’s review uncover that Mr. Black had knowledge of or participated in any illegal activity, investors that recently committed new capital to an Apollo fund could be subject to intense scrutiny.”
A spokeswoman for Aksia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We are firmly committed to transparency,” Apollo said Friday in a statement, noting that Black has been communicating regularly with investors. “Although Apollo never did business with Jeffrey Epstein, Leon has requested an independent, outside review regarding his previous professional relationship with Mr. Epstein.”
Aksia’s decision comes after the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System said it would hold off giving any new money to Apollo for the time being. Another investment adviser, Cambridge Associates, is considering not recommending Apollo funds, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.
Investors are stepping back from one of Wall Street’s most successful firms after fresh reports about Black and Epstein brought the issue back into focus. The New York Times said earlier this month that the Apollo chief wired more than $50 million to Epstein in the years following his 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl. The article didn’t accuse Black of breaking the law.
Gabrielle Farrell, a spokeswoman for Connecticut’s treasurer, said in an email that the state’s existing commitments to Apollo were “made under the previous administration and we have no plans to commit further capital to their funds at this time.”
Apollo said earlier this week that Dechert will conduct a review to independently evaluate Black’s past descriptions of a professional relationship with Epstein. Black, 69, has said he turned to Epstein for financial matters, such as taxes, estate planning and philanthropy.
The two men had been acquaintances since at least the early 1990s. From time to time, Epstein met with Black at Apollo’s New York offices, and he pitched personal tax strategies to the firm’s executives, Bloomberg has reported.
Apollo conducted an internal review into its involvement with Epstein to ensure that any ties went no further than the firm’s co-founder, people with knowledge of the matter said last year. That included examining emails and records to determine there was no connection between the company and Epstein, one of the people said.
(Updates with Apollo comment in sixth paragraph.)
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