Apax loses healthcare talent

US-based partner Bill Sullivan and two principals from the healthcare team have left or are leaving the firm, which recently held a €4.3bn first close on Fund VIII.

Apax Partners has had some turnover within its healthcare investment group recently, losing New York-based partner Bill Sullivan, as well as principals Hector Ciria and David Issott.

The London-headquartered firm’s healthcare group has 14 investment professionals and is co-led by Buddy Gumina in New York and Khawar Mann in London.

Apax said Tuesday Sullivan left to “pursue opportunities as a full time executive in the sector”.

“Prior to joining Apax in 2007 as an operating partner, [Sullivan] spent 20 years in senior positions in healthcare management. [Sullivan] left in March 2012 to pursue opportunities as a full-time executive in the sector,” an Apax spokesperson told Private Equity International Tuesday. Sullivan was unavailable for comment at press time.

Ciria left in March, returning to Spain to take a job with an Apax portfolio company, according to a source with knowledge of the move. Issott hasn’t officially left the firm, but has resigned, the source said, and will be moving from New York to the UK.

Earlier this year, Ali Satvat, another member of Apax’s healthcare team, left to join Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Apax’s healthcare team has returned more than 4x invested capital in buyouts, according to a source close to the firm. Its investments include Apollo Hospitals, Capio and Kinetic Concepts, which at $6.3 billion last year was one of the largest buyouts since the financial crisis.

Apax today has a very large investment team by private equity standards with 108 investment professionals and 31 investment partners.

Apax Partners

However, one of its other notable healthcare deals – Marken – has run into trouble. Since being acquired in 2009, the company has struggled and Marken was earlier this year valued at 10 cents on the dollar, according to multiple sources. Marken breached loan covenants earlier this year and Apax hired Houlihan Lokey to explore options including a possible sale or injecting more equity.

Turnover at Apax over the past six years hasn’t been limited to the healthcare team. More than 30 partners have left the firm since the most recent fund closed in 2006, including leaders of various investment sectors like Stephen Grabiner, former global head of media investments who left in 2010, Alex Fortescue, former head of the firm’s retail focus who left in 2009 and Max Burger-Calderon, who retired as chairman of Apax Asia in 2009.

Other partners who have left the firm during the time frame include the firm’s former chief investment officer Adrian Beecroft; Neil Thomson, a member of the portfolio review committee; Matthew Brockman, who led investments in the healthcare, media and consumer sectors; Adele Oliva, who was also on the healthcare team; Jacqueline Reses, who worked on media investments; Stephen Green, former head of the global financial and business services team; and operating partner David Whitehouse.

The turnover was the result of the firm having “grown and evolved” from venture investing to buyouts during the past decade, a spokesperson for the firm said. “The fact that people have left is also due in part to our choice of a proactive career management policy, which ensures that career progression opportunities exist for strong performers at all levels of the firm. This represents best practice among leading professional services firms around the world and we believe is one of the firm's great strengths.

“Apax today has a very large investment team by private equity standards with 108 investment professionals and 31 investment partners. In addition, this partner base is more experienced now than it was five years ago with a combined 400 years of private equity experience,” the spokesperson said.