Lazard pulls plug on buyout arm

US bank has abandoned plans for a European buyout team after failing to raise significant funds or to do a deal in the two years since launch.

Lazard, a US investment bank, has broken up its European private equity arm before the two-year-old team managed to do a deal.


According to reports Lazard European Private Equity Partners has disbanded with the destination of its team unclear. Graham Keniston-Cooper, head of the team, who joined from Cinven, a UK private equity firm, has left Lazard, along with Alex Cooper-Evans and Victor Vadaneaux.


Cooper-Evans joined Lazard from Compass Partners in 2004. Vadeneaux came from Advent International, while a fourth member of the team to have departed was Michele Russo from Doughty Hanson.


Lazard came close to doing a deal when it agreed to back Tim Waterstone, the retail entrepreneur, in his plan to buy the Waterstone’s bookstore that he founded from HMV Group.


It collapsed acrimoniously, reportedly after Lazard pulled its funding.


In an article in UK paper The Times private equity sources said that the team had been hampered by a lack of real financial backing from Lazard, which had committed just €50 million (£34 million) to the mid-market buyout fund.


It had been looking to raise a €500 million fund, launched in 2004.


A number of investment banks, such as Lazard, have looked to highly profitable private equity deals in recent years. Others have spun off their private equity divisions over concerns about possible conflicts of interests with their advisory and lending divisions.