After setting up of a global fund placement business last year, Lazards has announced plans to build a European buyout operation targeting companies with a value of up to £500 million (€736 million; $934 million). The investment bank said it was going to launch a European buyout fund as part of the strategy. The firm has already recruited two senior European private equity professionals, with plans to add at least one more senior figure and junior staff later in the year. Graham Keniston-Cooper, who left former employer Cinven in late 2002, and Advent International partner Victor Vadaneaux have joined the firm in London.

The US private equity firm has appointed Imperial Tobacco chairman Derek Bonham to advise on investment opportunities in the European industrial and manufacturing sectors. Bonham, currently the chairman of Imperial Tobacco Group, has also served as chairman of Cadbury Schweppes, Newsquest and The Energy Group. His previous roles have also included time as a non-executive director of Marconi and GlaxoSmithKline. From 1973 to 1997, Bonham was deputy chairman and chief executive of Hanson, the industrial management company. Bonham will be based in the London office and participate in the firm's investment activities in the general industrial and manufacturing sectors. His appointment is part of a Warburg Pincus plan to play a more significant role in European private equity going forward.

Southern European mid-market buyout firm Investindustrial has hired Dante Razzano as a principal. He will be based at the firm's office in Milan. Razzano has been active as an investment banker and buyout investor in Italy for the past 15 years with both Citigroup and Morgan Grenfell Private Equity (MGPE). Razzano is also a non-executive director of Ducati Motor Holding, the MGPE portfolio company.

Abingworth Management has hired former Bioscience Managers director Michelle Doig to join the firm's London-based operations. Doig will advise Abingworth on funding and refinancing portfolio companies. “The process of refinancing companies is a highly specialised part of the venture investment business,” said Stephen Bunting, managing director at Abingworth. “Michelle has an excellent understanding of this area, knows all the key players on both sides of the Atlantic and will improve Abingworth's efficiency in completing and closing financings.”

Matrix Group has launched a private equity fund advisory business targeting new and existing managers looking to raise up to £150 million ($283 million; €222 million). As part of the launch, Matrix has hired Ray Coole and Jonathan Leinmuller to set up a dedicated fund advisory business focusing on providing fundraising and investor relations services to private equity fund managers. Coole was formerly a director at Evolution Beeson Gregory, where he was responsible for private equity fundraising for third party clients. Leinmuller was formerly at Eiger Capital in Luxembourg, and Abbey National Treasury Services in London, looking after fund and direct investments.

Coole said the launch came at a promising time in the fundraising cycle. “Many venture capitalists are seeking to re-enter the fundraising market over the next two years. Recently, we have seen the general sentiment towards venture capital become more positive and limited partners' allocations increase, which is excellent news for those private equity houses seeking to raise funds.”

Intermediate Capital Group has confirmed the opening of a Madrid office to handle business in the expanding Iberian market. The firm, which already has offices in the UK, France, Scandinavia, Germany, Benelux, Switzerland and Hong Kong, will set up an initial team of three in Madrid, led by investment director Jose María Vegas Cordobés. The Madrid office has a broad sector focus and will look to do transactions from €10 million up to €400 million ($13 million to $511 million) of mezzanine. Last June, ICG invested €75 million in the Spanish company Codere, as part of Codere's financial restructuring and expansion plan. This was the largest mezzanine financing ever in the Spanish market.

In a statement, ICG said it was planning to play a major role in the expansion of the LBO market across the Iberian peninsula, generating opportunities from both the traditional sponsor-led LBO transactions and corporate acquisition or refinancings. According to data from ICG, the Spanish LBO market is expected to more than double from its current size to over _2.5 billion within the next three years. ICG announced last year that it was planning to open a permanent office in Madrid by the end of 2003.

Finnish private equity firm CapMan has hired Kai Jordahl to head up a three-strong team at its new Oslo office. Jordahl, who will lead the firm's Norwegian activities, joins on April 1 2004 along with new investment manager Hans Tindlund. They will join Erik Berger, who started as an investment director on 1 January 2004. Jordahl has spent the last five years as an investment director, firstly at Industrifinans Forvaltning and then, after its acquisition by ABN Amro, at ABN group company Alfred Berg Industrifinans. Tindlund moves from investment bank H&Q Norden Fondsmeglerforretning.

Private equity consortium Santemedia – comprising Apax Partners, Carlyle Group and Cinven – has appointed former Reed Elsevier chairman and CEO Ian Irvine as non-executive chairman of MediMedia. The healthcare information and marketing services group was part of the consortium's €1.2 billion acquisition of Vivendi Universal Publishing in July 2003. Aprovia, the business publishing division that was part of the same transaction, was subsequently sold to United Business Media. Irvine was managing director of Fleet Holdings (part of Express Newspaper Group) before becoming CEO of Octopus Publishing, chairman of Reed International and then chairman and CEO of Reed Elsevier, following Reed's merger with Elsevier.

ViaNova Capital, the London-based private equity fund of funds that is currently marketing a €500 million European debut fund, has appointed former 3i Group main board director Neil Cross to its industry panel. Cross, a former chairman of the BVCA, joins existing appointee Roger Brooke, the former chairman of Candover. The panel will provide strategic advice on the private equity buyout market. ViaNova will invest in European buyout funds, with 30 percent of commitments set aside for ‘specialist’ managers.