Doughty Hanson, the European private equity house currently in the early stages of raising a fourth fund, has indicated its enthusiasm for French investments by hiring Yann Duchesne to lead the firm’s new French office.
Duchesne, a well-known figure in French business, is joining Doughty Hanson as a senior principal and managing director for France and will build up a team of professionals over the next few months to develop the firm’s activities in France. He joins the firm from McKinsey, where for the past four years he has been managing director of its French operations.
The opening of the Paris office continues the firm’s strategy, began twelve years ago with the opening of a Frankfurt office, of expanding beyond its UK base into Europe and the Americas. Since then the firm has opened offices in Stockholm, Milan, Munich, Prague and New York.
Duchesne, author of a recent best-selling book on French economic policy, “France S.A.”, said he felt the French market was ready for a step up in investment: “I think the time is right for a greater level of activity than previously seen in the French marketplace. Privatisations, divestments of large corporations and evolution of family-owned businesses continue to fuel the growth of the French private equity market – making France the largest continental market for private equity activity.”
Doughty Hanson completed two acquisitions in 2002, including the undisclosed deal to acquire E1bn turnover German car part business Auto-Teile-Unger Group. Also in June, the firm completed the acquisition of Priory Healthcare, the UK's largest independent provider of mental health and rehabilitation services, for £288m.
The launch of the firm’s fourth fund, targeted at E3bn, was delayed last year by aborted exits at aircraft parts manufacturer Dunlop Standard and Danish wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber. Rumours that the firm wanted to list food group RHM also came to nought. The absence of substantive exits as well as the depressed state of the fundraising environment has prompted some to predict that the firm will have a tough job on its hands to close the new fund anywhere near its mooted target total.