General Atlantic announces succession

In another high profile private equity succession, co-founder Steven Denning will relinquish his role as managing partner of the Greenwich, Connecticut private equity firm.

Greenwich, Connecticut-based private equity firm General Atlantic announced today that Steven Denning, a co-founder of the firm and General Atlantic’s managing partner, will assume the position of chairman. William Ford, a managing director and chairman of the firm’s investment committee, has been named president of the firm.

The announcement effectively establishes a succession plan whereby Ford, a 14-year veteran of General Atlantic, will assume responsibilities for the day-to-day operations of the firm as well as continue his role as head of General Atlantic’s investment activities. As chairman, Denning will continue to be involved with the firm’s strategy and fundraising efforts.

Denning co-founded the firm in 1980 after working as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. In addition to his current involvement with a number of companies including Eclipsys Corporation, Gecis Global, Hewitt Associates, Liberata and SRA International, Denning is also a director of The Thomson Corporation.

Ford joined General Atlantic in 1991 after working as an investment banker for Morgan Stanley. He is a director of SSA Global Technologies, Computershare, Archipelago and Multiplan and he has formerly sat on the board of previous General Atlantic investments including E*Trade and Priceline.

The moves by General Atlantic come at a time when many private equity firms are grappling with the issue of succession. At the end of last year, Blackstone announced that Tony James would replace the firm’s co-founder Steven Schwarzmann as president of the buyout giant. Two months ealier, Tom Hicks, co-founder of Dallas buyout firm Hicks Muse Tate & Furst, announced his plan to retire from the business by the end of 2004.

General Atlantic, with additional offices in New York, Palo Alto, Washington, D.C., London, Dusseldorf, Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Sao Paulo, has approximately $8 billion (€6.1 billion) in capital under management. In November 2004, the firm, along with co-investors Oak Hill Capital Partners, bought a 60 percent stake in Gecis Global for approximately $500 million.