EQT Partners has added three investment professionals to its Benelux team, which the firm created earlier this year.
EQT hired Jeroen Regeur, a former vice president at TPG Capital, as a director, and Rob van der Zande, a former analyst at Goldman Sachs, as an associate. The pair joined the firm on 1 October. Additionally, Thomas Hansen, an associate who has been with EQT Partners for more than six years, has joined the Benelux team.
EQT’s Benelux team is based in London but is being relocated to Amsterdam, where the firm has had an office more 20 years handling fund administration and support activities.
“The intention is to move the Benelux [investment] team to Amsterdam by the end of 2014”, Kristiaan Nieuwenburg, EQT’s head of Benelux, told Private Equity International. “With the recent hires, we have a good team to start looking at opportunities in the Benelux market,” he said, adding that the firm is seeing strong deal flow and has already looked at a number of opportunities.
While deal flow in the Benelux region is stronger than at the beginning of the year, prices remain high, Nieuwenburg says.
“The combination of strong competition and a very liquid financing market drive those valuations to quite high levels.”
Economically there have been some challenges, particularly when compared to some of the Nordic countries, but fundamentally there’s no belief that it won’t be able to sort out its problems and it’s still better positioned than countries in Southern Europe.
Nieuwenburg joined EQT in March as part of an initiative to build up a significant local presence in the Benelux region.
EQT’s push to strengthen its local team comes following subdued buyout activity in recent years. In 2012, buyouts in The Netherlands totalled €1.3 billion, down from €2.1 billion in 2011, according to a report from NVP, the Dutch private equity industry body. Meanwhile, the combined value of exits fell roughly 50 percent. Dutch GPs generated €841 million in proceeds from the sale of 187 companies in 2012, compared to €1.6 billion from 128 companies in 2011.
Still, Nieuwenburg insists the Benelux region remains an attractive destination for private equity investment compared to Southern Europe. “Of course people are looking at it in the context of what’s happening in Europe. Some of the US-based global funds may look less at deals in Europe than in the US,” he said.
“On the other hand, I don’t think there’s a massive shift in perception of the Benelux. Economically there have been some challenges, particularly when compared to some of the Nordic countries, but fundamentally there’s no belief that it won’t be able to sort out its problems and it’s still better positioned than countries in Southern Europe.”