Former Tesco chief takes PE role

Supermarket mogul Sir Terry Leahy is to join fellow corporate heavyweights Jack Welch and AG Lafley in advising buyout firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

Months after stepping down as Tesco’s chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy has joined Clayton Dubilier & Rice’s London office as a senior advisor. 

Leahy’s new colleagues include fellow corporate bosses Jack Welch, who had a 20 year reign as the head of US conglomerate General Electric; and AG Lafley, the former chief executive of consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.

Lafley is understood to have recommended Leahy as a partner to CD&R's senior members, who subsequently approached the retired Tesco chief with an offer. The two bosses had worked together in the past as P&G is one of Tesco's major suppliers. 

During his 14-year tenure as chief executive of Tesco, Leahy oversaw the UK-based supermarket chain’s expansion into new markets including Thailand, Korea and China. Overall the retailer increased its number of foreign stores to 2,300 from 190 under his leadership.

Terry Leahy

Leahy’s international experience will “be of great value as our portfolio businesses capitalize on the opportunities of the more globalized business environment”, said Roberto Quarta, CD&R’s head of Europe. The firm's current portfolio includes global car rental business Hertz and food distribution company US Foodservice.

One of Leahy's first responsibilities will be to bat for the firm in the auction for roadside rescue company RAC, a source close to the matter confirmed. 

Similar to Welch and Lafley, who joined CD&R in 2001 and 2010 respectively, Leahy’s primary duties will be to work alongside operating partners, advise portfolio companies on business matters and evaluate deal opportunities. 

His appointment is part of a growing trend of corporate bosses semi-retiring into the private equity space as firms aim to bolster their operational expertise in the wake of the economic crisis. Another recent example was the appointment of Sir Stuart Rose, the high profile boss of listed UK retailer Marks and Spencer, to the advisory committee of European private equity firm Bridgepoint last last year.