He came, he saw, he set up the business. And now he's going home. After almost six years of heading up Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' European investment team, Ned Gilhuly is returning to his Californian roots.

For those tempted to read something negative or potentially destabilising to the firm into the decision, it appears that Gilhuly is merely sticking to his original five-year timetable, keen to spend more time with his school-age family and enjoy the supreme standard of living that California has to offer.

Gilhuly, whilst based in KKR's Menlo Park office, was chosen in 1998 to spearhead KKR's ground-breaking transatlantic push across the Atlantic and into Europe. Alongside fellow partner Todd Fisher, he built up the firm's London office with a view to replicating the success the firm had enjoyed in the US.

Today, as KKR prepares to raise its second dedicated European buyout fund (Fund I, a $3 billion vehicle was closed at the end of 1999) Gilhuly can reflect on a job well done. The firm has a 23-strong London-based investment team in place and can look back on 10 major investments in Europe from Fund I. The track record includes the €3.7 billion acquisition of Legrand in 2002, the largest buyout ever completed in France.

California and Southern England may be 6,000 miles apart, but don't expect Gilhuly's impact on KKR's European franchise to wane just because of distance. Market observers believe that the deal maker will continue to exert a considerable influence on KKR's European affairs from Menlo Park.

“It's a matter of personal preference”, says one such observer. “George [Roberts] likes to be in California too, Henry [Kravis] prefers New York. For Ned to move back to California is not a big deal”.

It must be great to have the choice. One implication is that Gilhuly, who insiders tip as an eventual head of the firm as a whole, doesn't need to be in the New York head office to enhance his leadership prospects.

Succession is also a hot topic in London, where no announcement has yet been made as to if and how Gilhuly will be replaced. Names in the frame include London deal makers Johannes Huth and Todd Fisher. But whoever steps up in Western Europe, support from Western USA will be available.

SJ Berwin, the European law firm with a major franchise in private equity fund formation, has taken steps to strengthen its burgeoning buyout practice by hiring Tim Wright as a corporate partner. Wright joins from London rivals Clifford Chance, which dominates the European market for private equity-related transactional work. Wright spent the past seven years at Clifford Chance and became a partner in 2001. His private equity clients include Duke Street Capital, whom he recently advised on the disposal of its debt management business, Duke Street Capital Debt Management. Jonathan Blake, head of SJ Berwin's corporate department and one of Europe's best known private equity lawyers, said that Wright's arrival was part of the firm's continued expansion strategy in M&A and buyouts. The firm now has 52 corporate partners across Europe, including 20 in London.

The Warsaw-based private equity firm has recruited Andrzej Bartos as a managing director. Bartos assumes responsibility for generating investments in the manufacturing and business services sectors across Central Europe. Most recently, Bartos spent three years as a director at Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, now renamed Allianz Specialised Investments, where he was responsible for the firm's Polish operations. Innova Capital is the exclusive investment adviser to Poland Partners LP, Innova 98 LP and Innova 3 LP, which provide risk capital for private enterprises located primarily in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In July 2004, Innova Capital was part of a private equity consortium that invested €450 million for a 40 percent stake in MobilTel Holding, the Bulgarian mobile telephony operator.

Europe's largest listed private equity house is once again looking outside the organisation to fill a senior position – this time that of finance director – after new chief executive Philip Yea announced a senior management reshuffle. Former finance director Michael Queen will move to head of growth capital in place of Chris Rowlands once a new finance director has been appointed. 3i said the process had commenced to appoint a new finance director who is “expected to be an external candidate”. This would be in keeping with the appointment of Yea himself, who was hired in May 2004 as 3i's first ever chief executive to be recruited from outside the organisation. To accommodate Queen as the new head of growth capital, Chris Rowlands will move to the newly created role of head of group markets with responsibility for “further developing the benefits of the group's geographic network as well as its sector and business contacts”. In further news, Denise Collis was appointed 3i's new group human resources director. Collis, who will join the executive committee, is currently a partner and head of human resources at Ernst & Young.

Jan Faber has been appointed to head up the fund of funds operation at the new London office of Bregal Investments, which invests in private equity on behalf of the Brenninkmeijer family. The group is currently deploying the Bregal Fund of Funds, a €750 million ($900 million) global private equity investment programme targeting buyout funds in a range of sectors and sizes in the US and Europe.

Bregal, which also has a New York office, opened a base in London's Mayfair in September. Faber joins from Henderson Private Capital, the private equity division of Henderson Global Investors, where he was head of the fund of funds team in London. Prior to that he was at the International Finance Corporation where he invested private equity in emerging markets. Faber has been joined in London by Joost Becker, who was previously at Fortis Bank. Meanwhile in the US, Bregal has hired David Young to its New York office. Young most recently spent three years in the private equity group at Merrill Lynch.

Allianz Specialised Investments, a subsidiary of Allianz Capital Partners (ACP), has announced the formation of a new investment team dedicated to investing in renewable energies. The group, headquartered in Muni ch, has hi r ed David Wyndham Jones to co-lead the effort. Wyndham Jones joins from Shell, where he specialised in wind energy. Based in London, he will have joint responsibility for the division alongside Andrew Cowley and Bill Cowcraft. The unit will report to Thomas Pütter, spokesman for the executive management of Allianz Capital Partners. According to an Allianz spokesperson, the renewable energies team will pursue investment opportunities opportunistically, as opposed to having specific annual investment targets. In May of this year, the group acquired Hansen Transmissions, a manufacturer of gear boxes for wind turbines formerly owned by Invensys. ACP was set up in 1998 and within Allianz Group has responsibility for direct private equity investments.

Greg Dyke, the former director general of the BBC, has joined private equity firm Apax Partners' media advisory board. Media is a favoured sector for Apax, with around 20 percent of investment so far from the firm's €4.4 billion Apax Europe V fund going into media deals. The firm recently teamed up with fellow private equity house Candover in an unsuccessful bid for the Telegraph Group, the newspaper business ultimately acquired by the Barclay Brothers. Dyke may find his advisory abilities put to the test should Apax decide to bid for BBC Worldwide, the commercial sales and publishing arm of the BBC for which the corporation is understood to be examining potential bids. The media advisory board also includes Neil Blackley, a former Merrill Lynch media analyst, while Stephen Grabiner, a former managing director of the Telegraph Group, heads the media investment team. Sir Peter Burt, chairman of ITV, earlier this year joined Apax as a senior adviser to its financial services team.