Maxwell back in business at Allianz

Jonny Maxwell, one of Europe’s best-liked fund of fund managers, has resurfaced to spearhead German insurance giant Allianz’ continued growth of its indirect private equity investment business.

Jonny Maxwell, the former chief executive of Standard Life’s private equity arm, has returned to management after six months “gardening leave” as the global head of Allianz’s indirect private equity business in London.

Maxwell, one of the industry’s highest profile investors, walked away from the business he built over 17 years after failing to secure independence for the UK insurer’s £2.5 billion (€3.7 billion; $4.9 billion) private equity operation.

Instead he will head Allianz’ newly established unit to coordinate and further expand the existing private equity fund of fund business.

Maxwell told PEO: “My mandate is to grow the business, which Allianz wants to expand significantly.” He said he was taking stock of the business in its current form to look to finesse the strategy.

With assets under management of about €7 billion, and offices in Munich, New York, Singapore as well as AGF Private Equity in Paris, Allianz Group already has a business bigger than Maxwell’s former employer.

It is also strategically important for the German insurance giant.

At a briefing in Frankfurt on Tuesday Paul Achleitner, Allianz’ chief financial officer and a member of the board, said absolute return investment strategies such as private equity would in future be even more important than today. However, he declined to disclose whether Allianz was projecting growth in its direct and indirect private equity businesses.

A fund of funds rival said: “It would be surprising if Maxwell did not start co-investing directly in deals alongside the general partners he’s backing. It was what he did at Standard Life and it would give the unit a bit more juice on the returns.”

Maxwell’s appointment will have surprised some industry veterans. At the time of his departure from Standard Life a managing partner at a UK buyout firm said he would be “startled if [Maxwell’s plan] didn’t involve setting up an independent fund of funds.”

A placement agent told PEO Maxwell had negotiated with UBS during his time out of the industry. Maxwell declined to comment, but said the deal with Allianz had come quickly once both parties committed to talks.

Wanching Ang is retaining her responsibilities as chief executive of Allianz Private Equity Partners and will be part of the management team of the new entity.

Maxwell joined Standard Life in 1989 as the only executive with full-time responsibility for private equity investments. He joined the board of directors in June 2004.