Permira veteran Damon Buffini steps down

The former managing partner will step back into an advisory role by year end

Former Permira managing partner and chairman Damon Buffini is leaving the UK buyout firm after 27 years.

Currently a member of the investment committee, Buffini will step down by the end of the year. He will continue as a senior advisor to the firm, as well as remaining a board member of fashion house Hugo Boss, in which Permira holds a 32 percent stake.

Buffini, who joined the firm in 1988 when it was known as Schroder Ventures, was hired by Jon Moulton, who ran the British division at the time. He became partner in 1991, managing partner of the UK in 1999, and then managing partner of Permira in 2000.

In 2007 Buffini handed over the managing partner role to Kurt Björklund and Tom Lister, becoming chairman, a position in which he remained until 2010.

“Since stepping down as chairman in 2010, I have given my full support to the new management team led by Kurt Björklund and Tom Lister,” Buffini said in a statement. “With a strong management team, a €5.3bn global fund to invest and the continued good performance of our portfolio companies, Permira is in great shape today and the time is right for me to do something new.”

Buffini is also co-founder and chairman of the Social Business Trust and governor of the Wellcome Trust Foundation. He will become the senior independent director of the PGA European Tour.

Pre-financial crisis Buffini found himself in the firing line of trade unionists following job cuts at the AA, which Permira acquired alongside CVC in 2004 in a £1.75 billion (€2.3 billion; $2.65 billion) transaction. In 2006 the GMB union turned up outside Buffini’s church in south London with a camel, referencing a biblical passage in which Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

Buffini was also questioned, alongside Philip Yea, a former 3i chief executive, and other private equity bosses, by a Treasury select committee in 2007 as part of an investigation into the activities of the private equity industry.

In 1997 Permira had four offices across Europe, managing €500 million of funds. Over the following ten year period the firm opened six new offices and raised four funds, totalling €20 billion. Today, the total committed capital of the firm’s funds is approximately €25 billion.

In June 2014 Permira closed its fifth buyout fund on its revised hard-cap of €5.3 billion. By the end of 2014 Permira had committed €1.6 billion of equity across nine investments, including shoemaker Dr Martens, wealth manager BestInvest and vitamin company Atrium.

In October the firm sold Arysta LifeScience, a global provider of crop solutions with expertise in agrochemical and biological products, a Permira IV investment, for $3.51 billion, realising a 1.7x return in euro terms. Permira IV also received proceeds from the sale of 11 percent of Hugo Boss shares, and the sale of Renaissance Learning to Hellman & Friedman for $1.1 billion, reaping a return of 4.1x.