LDC’s Darryl Eales steps down

Chris Hurley and Martin Draper will lead the business as co-heads and chief executives of LDC.

LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds banking group, has lost chief executive Darryl Eales.

Eales will step down next this week after 11 years in the leadership role and will be replaced by Chris Hurley, deputy chief executive officer, and Martin Draper, chief investment officer, who together will lead the business as co-heads and chief executives, according to statement.

Eales became chief executive officer in 2003 and will step down from the LDC board but continue his involvement with the business in a part-time advisory chairman role, supporting “the final phase of the transition plan to new leadership”, LDC said. He will also retain a number of board roles at portfolio companies and focus upon assisting LDC's Asia operation.

Under Eales’ leadership, LDC has invested over £2.6 billion in approximately 166 UK companies, mainly small and medium size enterprises. In this period, LDC has delivered capital gains in excess of £1.2 billion, the most successful period since the firm was founded over 30 years ago.

“It has been an absolute privilege to lead LDC and, especially, to work with so many outstanding people across the UK regions, many of whom have become close and trusted friends,” Eales said.

Due to Eales’ leadership, LDC is in a position of “real strength” with “a robust portfolio”, and has over £2 billion of capital to invest over the next five years, Hurley said in the statement.

Over the past 18 months, LDC has invested over £550 million, which includes over £80 million for buy-and-build acquisitions.

The firm has had a relatively busy start of the year. Earlier this month, LDC invested in Prism, a manufacturer and provider of specialist movement and handling solutions. It also supported the management buyout of telecommunications company Connect Communications. In March, LDC backed Warrington-based procurement services business CEL Procurement.

On the exit front, LDC recently sold its stake in Benson Group, a UK-based carton manufacturer, for £100 million to New York-listed Graphic Packaging International, netting a return that was “just over 2x”, according to a person familiar with the matter.