Dunstan departs Terra Firma

Terra Firma Capital Partners, the UK-based private equity firm headed by Guy Hands, has seen the second departure of a senior executive.

Following the resignation of Mark Tagliaferri earlier in the year, Terra Firma Capital Partners, the Guy Hands-led private equity firm, has suffered a second high-profile exit.     

Jennifer Dunstan, a financial managing director, has left for ‘personal reasons’ according to a spokesman for the firm. Dunstan was one of a large number of émigrés from the principal finance group (PFG) at Nomura, which was headed by Hands, who followed him to Terra Firma. Dunstan joined PFG in 1996 after working on the acquisition and securitisation of Angel Train Contracts, having been a member of Nomura’s transaction management department.

Dunstan was also involved in the securitisations, in 1999 and 2001, of the Unique Pub Company and was part of the group’s attempt to buy the Millennium Dome. She was also a member of the team that provided equity finance for the acquisition of the Le Meridien hotel chain.

In July this year Mark Tagliaferri, who was also a financial managing director, quit Terra Firma to launch Active Asset Investment, a property investment company for high net worth individuals, with property entrepreneur Robert Whitton.   

The departure of Dunstan and Tagliaferri coincides with the appointment of Joe Sinyor and Stephen Alexander as operational managing directors at Terra Firma. Sinyor was the chief executive of Trinity Mirror’s newspaper business until last year. Alexander, the former chief executive of Hillsdown Holdings, was brought in by Hands in September 2002 to try and sort out the problems at portfolio company Le Meridien, initially as deputy chairman and then chief executive. In May this year the hotel chain's banks took over the company after it breached its loan covenants.

A spokesman for Terra Firma said the two departures had allowed the firm to shift its focus from financial to operational expertise. “We are bringing in people with a long-term outlook and who have extensive experience of running businesses,” he said. Despite this apparent change in emphasis, the firm also recently hired former Goldman Sachs investment banker Charles Ewald as a financial managing director. The senior management team is still split roughly 50/50 between finance and operational experts.    

At the end of September, Terra Firma announced a second closing of its Terra Firma Capital Partners II debut fund at E1.7bn, ahead of a planned E2bn final close early next year. The fund had an initial target of E3bn.