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New York, NY – January 13, 2017. The 2017 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions marked the 20th year that the ToC had been played in Grand Central Terminal. To celebrate this grand milestone, all the past ToC champions were recognized at a gala ToC Champions Dinner on January 13th. It was also a fitting occasion to pay tribute to a different ToC champion – Lexington Partners, a 19-year sponsor of the ToC whose unwavering support has been integral to the continuing growth of the championship. Tournament chair John Nimick recognized Lexington Partners Managing Partner Brent Nicklas as Honorary Champion of the world’s grandest squash championship.
Accepting his honorary title, Nicklas said, “I think it’s safe to say that squash, for me, has been the most important athletic endeavor in my life. It’s taught me a lot about human character. And I say that sincerely. And it’s taught me a lot about sportsmanship. It’s taught me a lot about winning … and, unfortunately for me, it’s taught me a lot about losing, because, even though I’ve played my whole life, I did not win every match that I played, to say the least. But I think there’s a certain dignity in squash. There’s a dignity to being in a closed space, on a court with somebody, with a weapon in your hand, and you’re sweaty and you’re tired and you’re losing. And to hold it all together in that situation has taught me one hell of a lot about life in general and about business, so I want to thank squash for giving me that lesson.”
Nimick shared the story of connecting with Nicklas and Lexington Partners and forging this extraordinary partnership. “Lexington Partners appeared to me out of the blue before the 1999 Tournament of Champions, which was the second one at Grand Central but the first since the pioneering year of 1995 due to the Terminal’s historic three-year renovation and revitalization. The firm bought a Box, as best I can recollect. Year after year, without much prompting or investigation on my part,the firm renewed the box. One year a member of the firm, David Outcalt, introduced himself at the event and said, “I’m the guy that handles the Lexington Box every year. You should meet my boss.
In preparation for the next year’s ToC, I scheduled a meeting at Lexington Partners’ 660 Madison headquarters and rode to the 23rd floor to meet Mr. Brent Nicklas for the first time in a formal setting. I waited in the conference room…nervous. An annual Box holder for the ToC, in an era of rotating Title Sponsors from the financial sector, was a real treasure. Brent entered alone with a book. It was Hashim Khan’s Eye on Ball. He said, “Do you really think that’s all it takes?” And the rest of the meeting revealed his passion for the sport, his regular games in New York and, when traveling, with the famous Hiddy Jahan at London’s Bath & Racquets Club, his opinions about the merits of a well-executed reverse corner versus a working boast…and more. The ToC and Lexington Partners have never looked back.
During the past 18 years, Mr. Nicklas and his firm have become the strongest, longest serving corporate partners of the Tournament of Champions. For the last several years, Lexington Partners has been the event’s exclusive Gold Sponsor, a level just below J.P. Morgan’s 9-year Platinum Title Sponsorship. More historically, I would suggest that Lexington Partners’ continuous and material corporate support of the ToC is the longest running major squash sponsorship in the world.”
Brent Nicklas was a varsity squash player at Amherst, graduating with honors in economics. He received his MBA from Stanford University and founded Lexington Partners in 1994 just as the secondary market in private equity was in its’ early stages. The firm, the largest independent manager of secondary acquisition and co-investment funds, now manages over $35 billion in committed capital across both secondary and co-investment strategies. It closed the largest dedicated secondaries vehicle ever, raised with hard cap of $10.1 billion in April of 2015. Lexington’s team of more than 100 people are working in six offices strategically located in major centers for private equity and alternative investing – New York, Boston, Menlo Park, London, Hong Kong, and Santiago.