Myners joins Synova

One of the City of London’s most famous pluralists adds another private equity firm to his roster of responsibility. He is the latest of a number of heavyweight financiers the fledgling buyout firm can call to its cause.

Synova Capital, a UK private equity fund focussed on the lower mid-market, has appointed Paul Myners, to chair its investment committee.

Myners is adding to his private equity interests, which already include Englefield Capital, where he sits on its advisory board. He is also a member of the investment committee of Singapore’s GIC, a significant investor in private equity. 

His appointment will add momentum to Synova’s maiden fundraising, targeting £100 million to invest in the UK lower mid-market in companies worth between £10 million and £50 million, which have been abandoned by private equity’s ever larger funds.

Synova held a first close last December on £70 million including a cornerstone investment from its chair Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish billionaire and the chairman of investment group Tamares.

David Menton, one of the firm’s managing partners, worked at Tamares for almost a decade, while Philip Shapiro, also a managing partner, was a senior executive at Phoenix Equity Partners.

The latest hire is in line with the heavyweights on Synova’s advisory board, which include Peter Weinberg, an industry veteran and founder of Perella Weinberg Partners, and Michael Lewis, a principal of Oceana Investments, an international investment firm.

Myners’ new responsibilities are in addition to the chairmanship of Land Securities Group. He is also a member of the Court of the Bank of England and a director of GLG Partners, a hedge fund. He also chairs the Guardian Media Group, the Low Pay Commission and the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority.

Myners’ most recent engagement with private equity was as US firm JC Flowers’ first choice to chair Northern Rock had its bid for the stricken UK bank been successful.

However, a year ago he joined the chorus of critics when he told Financial Times, the UK newspaper, the industry was set up to reward its “principal participants”, while workers in private equity-backed companies suffered “an erosion of job security and a loss of benefits”.

Myners also added to Labour Party politicians and trade union leaders’ calls for the government to re-examine the tax treatment of private equity, and also in calling for a greater level of transparency. “We are seeing companies go private and they are taken from being transparent and accountable into a dark box,” he said.

In an interview with PrivateEquityOnline.com at the time he said he had been talking about mega-funds: “The kind that could contemplate a bid for Sainsbury’s. These are a phenomenon that’s entirely new – it’s completely uncharted territory,” he said. Most of the data supporting the buyout model was from much smaller fund and deal sizes, he pointed out.

His latest move to Synova is in line with his belief pension funds should invest in private equity, a view he outlined in a report for the UK government in 2001 on institutional investment.