Apax reshuffles management

Andrew Sillitoe and Mitch Truwit have been elected co-CEOs of Apax, with current CEO Martin Halusa becoming chairman. 

Apax Partners’ current chief executive officer, Martin Halusa, will step down from his current role to become chairman.

Halusa, who became chief executive of Apax in 2004, will be replaced by Andrew Sillitoe and Mitch Truwit, according to a statement.

The two men were unanimously chosen in an election and will take up their new roles on 1 January 2014.

Truwit, who joined Apax in 2006, is a partner in the firm’s services team. He is also a member of the executive committee and a trustee of the Apax Foundation. He has been involved with deals including Dealer.com and TRADER Corporation.

Sillitoe, who has been with Apax since 1998, is a partner in the firm’s technology and telecoms team. He is also a member of the executive, investment, approval, portfolio review and exit committees and has been involved with deals including Orange Switzerland and TIVIT.

Sillitoe will be based in London while Truwit will be based in New York. However it is understood the pair will not split responsibilities on a geographic basis.

The election marked the “successful outcome of the firm’s formal succession process first established when our founder Sir Ronald Cohen stepped down a decade ago”, Halusa said in the statement. “I believe Andrew and Mitch are well-qualified and experienced to lead and inspire the next generation of Apax.”

It is understood that the key partners at Apax as well as three sovereign wealth funds – which are both shareholders and LPs – voted in the process. Apax, which declined to comment on the statement, told PEI last year there would be no formal application process. The winning candidate would need 65 percent of the vote.

It remains unclear whether Apax informed investors that Halusa would take up the chairman role while it raised Apax VIII, which closed on $7.5 billion in June. Apax has a compulsory retirement age of 60, but Halusa, who will turn 60 in 2015, agreed to stay on until the end of Apax VIII’s investment period, he told PEI last year.

“LPs want to make sure that as I approach retirement, they can be assured of a certain continuity. They don’t want to commit now and find themselves with a completely different investment strategy or process further down the road,” he said, adding that this wouldn’t happen anyway.

“In our business, the new CEO doesn’t come in and drive change to establish a new power base. Quite the contrary: the new CEO’s main job is to ensure a smooth continuity in terms of strategy, organisation, people and processes. And all my potential successors are already involved in creating that strategy and those processes. So there’s no massive change expected or feared by our investors.”

At the time, Apax put forward four candidates that were likely to succeed Halusa, including Sillitoe, Truwit and Christian Stahl, co-head of the media group and a member of the executive committee, and Nico Hansen, who chairs both the approval and portfolio review committees.

In the corporate world, succession battles often results in departures by those who have lost out, with General Electric being a famous example. But Apax insisted this wouldn’t happen at their firm.

“The firm is designed to be very meritocratic and collegial,” Truwit said at the time. “[The next CEO] could be anyone, at this table or outside, and everyone one of us would be completely happy. It’s a good group of people; we all like investing; we all like this as an entrepreneurial platform. So I don’t see a GE-type situation happening at all.”