Kurt Geiger to advise Alpha

Another veteran of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been lured to the world of private equity, as firms seek to up their exposure to Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS nations.

Zurich-based fund of funds manager Alpha Associates has hired Kurt Geiger, an ex-banker at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), to chair its advisory board as the firm seeks to expand its investments in Russia and the CIS nations.

Geiger spent 15 years at the EBRD, latterly as business group director for financial institutions and private equity, where he led a number of investments in financial institutions throughout the region.

Kurt Geiger

Prior to his appointment at the EBRD, Geiger's 30-year banking career included stints at German development bank KfW, investment bank Chase and banking group Midland Montagu (now known as HSBC).

Commenting on his appointment, Geiger said: “I look forward to supporting Alpha's growth strategy, in particular in Russia and CIS, the largest, and still a largely untapped market for growth equity, where the risk/return profile is very compelling.”

The EBRD's private equity funds investment programme is the largest in Central and Easter Europe, and as a result has fostered talent for private equity firms looking to grow into the region. UK-listed Candover recently recruited a four-strong CEE investment team, all of whom have held positions at the EBRD.

Investors are still committing capital to the CEE region. In August Advent International closed its fourth CEE fund on €1 billion: triple the size of its previous fund in 2005. Mid Europa Partners' €1.53 billion 2007 fund is still the region's largest.

Alpha Associates has CHF2 billion (€1.3 billion; $1.75 billion) of private equity funds under management and has invested more than €400 million in CEE, Russia and the CIS since 1998.