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Pamplona hires Vestar executive

Former Vestar Capital managing director Brian Ratzan has joined Pamplona Capital Management, where he will lead the firm’s expansion into the US private equity market.

Pamplona Capital Management has hired Brian Ratzan to head the expansion of its private equity business to the US, the firm announced in a statement. Ratzan, who joined the firm as a partner, was previously a managing director at Vestar Capital. 

Ratzan will be responsible for developing a team of investment professionals to service the US market, as well as source deals, according to the statement. Prior to Vestar, Ratzan was a vice president at ‘21’ International Holdings.

The expansion of Pamplona’s private equity business to the US will follow the generalist investment strategy the firm had previously adopted in Europe. However, the hiring of Ratzan may indicate that the firm will be eying the consumer sector for deals, according to a market source. Ratzan led Vestar’s consumer group, specialising in the firm’s investments in branded companies such as Del Monte Food, Sun Products and Birds Eye Foods.

Vestar closed its offices in Munich, Paris and Milan last year as part of an effort to consolidate its strategy to the US market, where the firm said it would be building its staff.

The shuttering of its remaining European offices represented a shift in the firm’s overall strategy. The firm had marketed its most recent fund, Vestar Capital Partners VI, as targeting management buyout, growth equity and recapitalisation transactions in the US and Europe, according to documents from the 4 November 2010 meeting of the Washington State Investment Board.

However, Vestar had not made an investment in Europe in more than four years, according to a source with knowledge of Vestar.

“I have the greatest admiration for Vestar and all of my colleagues at the firm,” Ratzan said in a statement.

Pamplona was founded in 2005. The firm closed its third private equity fund last year on €2 billion.