“It’ll be a movie one day,” Remy Kawkabani, Coller Capital’s newest partner, says of the deal that some believe marked the birth of the modern secondaries market. The transaction saw a Coller Capital-led consortium acquire Royal Bank of Scotland’s private equity portfolio for £1.1 billion (€1.2 billion; $1.5 billion) in 2000.
As European head of the private funds group at investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette at the time, Kawkabani played a key role in sourcing, structuring and completing the transaction. He has since had a hand in a number of other landmark events in private equity history and was named one of Private Equity International’s 100 most influential people in private equity for the period 2001-11.
In 2002 he would assist his future employer – Coller Capital – in raising $2.7 billion for its fourth flagship, more than triple the size of its $712 million predecessor. As co-head of Credit Suisse’s fund group and later chief executive of EMEA for its asset management business, Kawkabani also led the capital-raising for numerous first-time funds and spin-out groups including AnaCap Financial Partners, Gulf Capital, PAI Partners, Affinity Asia and Magnum Industrial Partners.
“I enjoyed being CEO of a bank’s asset management division, but I didn’t feel it was my true calling,” he says.
In 2012, Kawkabani used his experience in creating new private equity brands to co-launch his own firm, World Trade Capital Partners with the aim of providing bank regulatory capital relief through exposure to bank trade finance portfolios.
In 2014, New York-based Siguler Guff – one of Kawkabani’s potential limited partners – adopted a similar trade finance fund model and hired him to set up its London office.
Kawkabani left the firm on good terms last year before joining Coller Capital on 8 January. While details of Kawkabani’s precise role are unclear, his long history in fund structuring and placement will no doubt be called on as the secondaries firm ramps up marketing for its eighth global fund.