Ferris wins PEI leadership award as CHAMP transitions

Bill Ferris takes PEI's Asia-Pacific Leader of the Year award, as the firm announces John Haddock will become CEO.

Bill Ferris, co-founder of Australia’s CHAMP Private Equity, has been awarded Leader of the Year, Asia-Pacific, in the Private Equity International Awards 2013, just as the firm solidifies its succession plan.

PEI's Leadership Award honours an industry figure who has significantly contributed to the development of private equity in Asia.

Ferris, along with co-founder and partner Joe Skrzynski, has built the firm into one of the most successful GPs in the country and has also become the first Australian manager to open its investment strategy to emerging Asia.

Ferris, sometimes referred to as the “grandfather” of private equity in Australia, also released a book last year, “Inside Private Equity”, which recounts his experiences during his 40-some years of investing. 

The book came as he and Skrzynski begin to wind down at the firm. The two founders have elected current managing director John Haddock to lead CHAMP going forward as its first-ever chief executive officer.

Haddock will be in charge of the day-to-day management activities at the firm, driving its investment programme. The team will report directly to him. He will continue to be involved in investment decisions, as well.

Having worked on both the equity and debt side in investment banking, Haddock joined CHAMP in 2002. He has led several investments, including United Malt Holdings and Accolade Wines – two of CHAMP’s most successful cross-border investments, according to the firm.

“What we’ve been looking for and see in John is a sense of proprietorship. He loves the private equity business, he’s got a strong commitment to the CHAMP culture and a sense of proprietorship about the firm. It is really important to me, Joe and the board that CHAMP goes on as a successful franchise,” Ferris told Private Equity International. 

“These sorts of entrepreneurial private equity GPs are not always successful in transitioning and so we’ve been working it out pretty thoughtfully and carefully to make sure we deliver a really good evolution of the management structure,” he added.

However, Ferris emphasises that the news is not a signal that he and Skrzynski are retiring. They will remain in their respective executive chairman and founding partner roles, actively involved at the investment decision level on the investment committee and in the boardroom.

Moreover, when CHAMP comes to market with its fourth private equity vehicle at the end of 2014, the founding duo plans to be actively involved in the fund, though Ferris declined to comment on fundraising details. 


The Private Equity International Awards 2013 will be announced in full on 1 March 2014.