CD&R boosts London team with Permira senior hire

Sonja Terraneo, formerly global head of industrials for Permira, will further CD&R’s reach into the industrials sector and German-speaking countries as it readies for an increase in European deal activity.

Clayton Dubilier & Rice has strengthened its Europe-focused deal team with the hire of Sonja Terraneo, the former head of industrial sector-investments for fellow large-cap private equity firm Permira.

Sonja
Terraneo

A 15-year private equity veteran, Terraneo re-joined Permira in 2005 from Cinven, having started her private equity career at Permira predecessor Schroder Ventures. Industrial sector deals done during her tenure at Permira included the €1.4 billion investment in Italian tile manufacturer Marazzi Group; the €1.9 billion acquisition of Japanese pharma company Arysta LifeScience; and the €1.7 billion purchase of Netherlands-based animal feed manufacturer Provimi. She was based in Permira’s Frankfurt office.

Hiring Terraneo “helps us to grow our presence in industrials, to grow our presence in Germany, and to solidify our consumer and retail” expertise, London-based CD&R partner Dave Novak told PEI.

“There was a big area in industrials that, frankly, we were underplaying,” Novak said. “We were also under-covered in the German-speaking world – and as you know, Germany is roughly one-quarter of the European private equity market.”

We were under-covered in the German-speaking world  … Germany is roughly one-quarter of the European private equity market.

Dave Novak

Novak said CD&R had “identified an opportunity here in Europe over the next couple years” and wanted to hire a partner with a lot of experience to help find and execute deals. Terraneo joins a team in London whose operating partners include Roberto Quarta, former chief executive and chairman of engineering group BBA; Fred Kindle, ex-CEO of energy conglomerate ABB; and former Unilever executive Vindi Banga.

The firm’s most recent European deal was the £390 million secondary buyout of British Car Auctions. Agreed in the fourth quarter of 2009, it was the first European deal, and third overall, from CD&R’s $5 billion Fund VIII.

While he stressed CD&R was patient and wouldn’t do deals “for the sake of doing deals”, Novak expected the London team to agree one to two deals per year going forward. He noted the firm was bullish on finding “strike-zone deals” in Europe, meaning market-leading, multi-location distribution or services businesses. 

He acknowledged there were various macroeconomic challenges in the region, but said that also “often leads to opportunities as companies have to prioritise their growth areas and where they invest their capital, which could lead to interesting opportunities to buy non-core businesses”.

CD&R’s current Europe-headquartered portfolio companies include lab testing services company Exova and Rexel, an electrical supply distributor.