Huntsman Gay hires Kirkland exec as partner

The mid-market firm has hired Jim Learner from Kirkland & Ellis and has promoted three investment professionals to the role of principal.

Huntsman Gay Global Capital has hired Jim Learner, former head of European operations at law firm Kirkland and Ellis, as a managing partner.

Learner join’s Huntsman’s Silicon Valley-based investment team, where he will work on new deals and existing portfolio companies. He spent the last 12 years working in Kirkland and Ellis’ London office, representing private equity funds in connection with their acquisition, divestiture, financing and fund formation activities. Learner left Kirkland in August after 25 years at the firm.

“I’ll probably spend more time on new deals because a lot of the portfolio companies are already staffed up with the team that has been involved in the deals for a long time,” Learner told Private Equity International. I’ve already been lending my hand to help out where I can and would expect that over time I’ll become more engaged with the portfolio.”

In addition to Learner’s hire, Huntsman Gay has also promoted three of its US-based investment professionals. Former senior vice presidents Jacob Hodgman and Hudson Smith have been promoted to principal in the firm’s Silicon Valley office, while former senior vice president Neil White has been promoted to principal in the firm’s Florida office.

Hodgman has worked with Huntsman since its inception at 2007. He previously worked in mid-market investments at Sorenson Capital and as a senior analyst in the investment banking division of Citigroup, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions.

Jim Learner

Smith joined Huntsman in 2009, having worked previously as a manager at Bain & Company in Dallas and Sydney, Australia. Prior to joining Bain he was an investment banking analyst at Lincoln International.

White has worked at Huntsman since 2009. He previously worked in the private equity group at Och-Ziff Capital Management and at Bain Capital.

Huntsman Gay made two investments in 2012 and sold laboratory information services business Sunquest for $1.4 billion in August. The firm now has five managing partners and five principals.

“In terms of dollars invested, [2012] was about the same as the prior years have been – in that $250 million range, which has been pretty consistent for us over time,” Huntsman managing partner and chief executive officer-elect Gary Crittenden told Private Equity International. Crittenden is in the process of assuming the role of CEO to replace Robert Gay, who stepped down to assume a senior role within the Mormon church in April. Gay remains a member of the firm’s investment committee.

Huntsman Gay manages a $1.1 billion fund and focuses on mid-market buyouts, recapitalisations and growth equity transactions.