Electra Partners appoints new managing partner

Hugh Mumford, who retires after 34 years at the firm, is succeeded by Alex Fortescue as part of a succession plan in the works since 2010.

Electra Partners, which manages the portfolio of London-listed Electra Private Equity, has appointed Alex Fortescue to take over as managing partner from Hugh Mumford. Mumford, who retires after 34 years at the firm, will remain chairman of the Electra Partners Investment Committee, it said.

Bill Priestley, who joined Electra Partners in 2014 as a partner from LGV Capital where he was managing director, will succeed Fortescue as chief investment partner. Fortescue joined Electra in 2011 from Apax Partners, where he was global head of the retail and consumer group.

Mumford said in a statement that the firm had started on its succession plan in 2010.

“It's business as usual. It would have happened regardless of Sherborne,” said a person familiar with the situation in reference to the nomination of two representatives from Sherborne Investors to Electra Private Equity's board in November.

Sherborne is the listed investment trust's largest shareholder with close to 30 percent of shares. The appointment of Edward Bramson and Ian Brindle to the board following a shareholder vote was a victory for the activist investors, which had criticised the relationship between the board and its investment managers, including fees paid and portfolio performance, as reported by Private Equity International .

The board had objected to the appointments, which were put to a shareholder vote for the first time in October 2014. Following approval from 53.5 percent of voting shareholders late last year, the then chairman Roger Yates resigned, followed by board member Geoffrey Cullinan, as reported.

In late November, Bramson was appointed chairman of the management engagement committee that oversees the trust's relationship with Electra Partners.

Fortescue's appointment will not impact the firm's investment strategy, the person said.

Following the shareholder vote, Sherborne said it planned to conduct a “strategic review” of Electra. Numis Securities, which is a house broker for Sherborne, suggested in a note published in early January that the review was underway. The person familiar with the matter dismissed that as speculation.

In early January Electra announced that, alongside Patron Capital, it had acquired Grainger Retirement Solutions for £325 million ($477 million; €443 million). The two firms will invest £45 million into the home reversion equity business and Patron will act as the operating partner, a statement said.

“The investment is a strong fit with Electra's long-term capital. It offers an attractive and low-risk return, as well as some exciting opportunities to increase Retirement Solutions' scale through M&A,” Fortescue said in the statement.

As of 30 September, Electra Partners had capital available for investment of close to £350 million out of assets under management of £1.8 billion.

Electra Private Equity shares were trading down 0.73 percent at £36.98 per share around midday, giving the investment trust a market capitalisation of almost £1.5 billion.