COMFORT ZONE

It might come as little surprise that financial services firm Seymour Pierce, backed by one of the most headline-grabbing and successful UK private equity firms, has decided to launch a private equity advisory business.

According to new executive director Mark MacLean, who heads up the new division, the reason for the move was not to ape or cash in on the much-vaunted success of the Alchemy mother ship. MacLean does admit, however, that he was “very comforted” to join an organisation backed by the mighty Alchemy.

MacLean will lead the team that joined Seymour Pierce in November from German investment bank WestLB. The team comprises directors Mark Perry and William Tebbit as well as Douglas Harmer, a manager. All four worked together at WestLB, where Tebbit headed up UK mergers and acquisitions at WestLB Panmure.

MacLean describes the circumstances surrounding the move as fortuitous. At the same time as he and his colleagues were considering their futures at WestLB, Seymour Pierce was looking to enhance the firm's ability to offer a more comprehensive private equity advisory service to support opportunities in the pre-IPO market.

Says MacLean: “Although the primary focus of Seymour Pierce's [12-strong] corporate finance team has been advising public market clients, the firm was increasingly seeing excellent private companies and recognised an opportunity to provide a broader range of advisory services to those companies.”

This happy alignment of interest was coupled with some existing knowledge of the firm: MacLean and Perry knew former colleagues who had already joined Seymour Pierce. The final piece of the jigsaw was the support of a strong private equity partner.

That's not to say that Alchemy were proactive or pushy in ensuring that Seymour Pierce developed this new niche to their business. Says MacLean: “They were aware of the fact that we were joining, and were wholly supportive of the management decision to add another complementary business line to Seymour Pierce. It's great to have that sort of backing.”

Alchemy backed the £7.35 million MBO of the Seymour Pierce name alongside the group's corporate finance, broking, institutional sales, research and trading and private client stockbroking businesses in April 2003.

MacLean is excited about the new opportunity: “We've already been inundated with potential deals that predate our joining.” Alchemy will be glad to hear it.

NEW HIRE AT PPM FUND OF FUNDS ARM
Simon Faure has joined Private Equity Partnerships, the fund of funds arm of London-based private equity firm PPM Ventures, as an associate director. Faure joins from Insight Investment, the asset management arm of the Halifax and Bank of Scotland group. In his new role, Faure will work alongside Roberto Pilotto, PPM's funds director, and will focus on the development of primary fund investments in Europe and Asia.

CVC APPOINTS SENIOR MIDOCEAN PRO
Hugh Briggs has joined European private equity firm CVC Capital Partners as a London-based director. Briggs, who will be part of the firm's international team, joins from MidOcean Partners. A source close to the firm said that Briggs will have no specific remit but will cover cross-border transactions. At MidOcean, Briggs was involved in a number of high-profile deals, including the acquisition and disposition of Center Parcs Europe and the £654 million (€933 million; $1.2 billion) sale of Laurel Pub Company's managed pub division to Greene King in August this year.

THIRD PARTNER FOR CABOT SQUARE
Chris Sales has become a partner at Cabot Square Capital, the ([A-z]+)-based mid-market investor. Sales, who joined Cabot Square in 1996, the year in which it was formed, becomes the firm's third partner alongside James Clark and John Van Deventer. Before launching Cabot Square, Clark and Van Deventer were heads of European structured finance at Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs respectively. Cabot Square is currently investing its Fund II, which closed on €284 million ($366 million) in July 2003, beating a target of €250 million.

HUTH PUT IN CHARGE OF KKR EUROPE
Following news that Ned Gilhuly is to return to KKR's Menlo Park, California office, Johannes Huth has been named head of the firm's London office. Huth, who is 44 and a German national, is to take over from Gilhuly, who has been heading up KKR's UK presence since 1998. Huth will be working closely with Todd Fisher and the pair will represent the London office on the firm's investment and portfolio management committees.

ATP HIRES THREE
ATP Private Equity Partners, the Copenhagen-based fund of funds, has announced the hire of two new investment professionals, bringing the size of its investment team to 15. Kaspar Knudsen joins ATP from Danisco Venture, the corporate venture arm of food ingredient producer Danisco, where he worked for three years. Soeren Broendum Andersun has spent four years at pan-Nordic buyout house Procuritas Partners. Knudsen and Andersun will join ATP's due diligence team, focusing on venture capital and buyout funds, respectively. In addition, Matthew Baker will join the firm's legal team as legal counsel. For the last five years, Baker has worked in the financing department at the London office of international law firm Slaughter and May.

US FUND OF FUNDS HIRES NEW LONDON HEAD
Based out of its new London office, Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny has joined US fund of funds manager Northgate Capital as managing director and head of global private equity investing. As well as managing the London office, Khajeh-Hosseiny will lead research, investment methodology and processes for Northgate's global private equity arm. Khajeh- Hosseiny has been recruited from the McKinsey Investment Office (MIO), where he was head of global private equity investments. MIO is a wholly owned investment subsidiary of consulting giant McKinsey & Co and has around $3 billion under management. At McKinsey, Khajeh-Hosseiny advised global investment firms and government agencies on their investment strategies, acquisitions, alliances and restructurings. He also led McKinsey's Excellence in US and European Private Equity initiative. Based in Danville, California, Northgate Capital has over $500 million in committed capital. The firm has also announced that it had recruited David Laycock as an associate. to assist Northgate's managing directors in the due diligence and investment processes.