When people talk about a ‘weight of money’ being thrown at private equity, they probably have institutional rather than high-net-worth capital in mind. And yet, that's precisely the phrase that springs to mind when considering a new investment joint venture that has been launched by Bernard Arnault and Albert Frère.

Arnault, chairman of luxury goods group LVMH, and Frère, chairman of Belgian investment firm Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL), are reported to have massed personal fortunes in the region of $21.5 billion (€17.1 billion) and $3 billion respectively. The wealthiest individual in France (Arnault) and the man known as the Warren Buffett of Belgium (Frère) have pooled some of their formidable resources to establish a currently unnamed €1 billion fund.

The vehicle is being bankrolled by Groupe Arnault and Compagnie Nationale à Portefeuille, the holding companies of Arnault and Frère respectively. A statement from Groupe Arnault said: “This partnership will invest in both listed and unlisted companies. Groupe Arnault and CNP intend to invest mainly in European companies and assist them with their development.”

The statement also said that the fund currently had no projects underway. This has not, however, stopped the rumour mill from turning. According to a number of reports, speculation is rife that Aston Martin, the luxury British sports car maker, tops the shopping list. The company, which is being sold by Ford as part of a global restructuring, is thought to possess a price tag in the region of £670 million.

Of course, Arnault is no stranger to iconic brands. Groupe Arnault owns 69 percent of Christian Dior, which in turn owns about 43 percent of LVMH. The latter's brands include Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Moet et Chandon. In addition, LVMH private equity arm L Capital has invested in the likes of sportswear firm Gant and leather goods maker Antichi Pellettieri.

Through GBL, Frère has accumulated stakes in the likes of Total, the petrol group, Suez, a utility, and Lafarge, a cement maker. While these investments may be a little more prosaic in nature than those of his new business partner, Frère is also reputed to be a fan of the good things in life. This may be evidenced by a personal art collection that includes works by the likes of Magritte and Renoir.

3i has appointed Machtelt Groothuis, previously at Taros Capital Holdings, as a director in its Benelux buyout business, based in its Amsterdam office. She will focus on mid-market buyouts across the Benelux. Machtelt spent the last five years at Taros Capital, previously the Benelux- and Germany-focused mid-market buyout operation of AlpInvest Partners, which spun out at the beginning of 2006. The firm recently abandoned plans for a €350 million ($440 million) buyout fund, and AlpInvest withdrew its cornerstone investment from the project. Before Taros Capital, Machtelt worked at McKinsey & Company, where she advised clients in the media and telecommunications sectors.

John Birkelund and Robert Faris, the founders of Warsaw-based private equity firm Enterprise Investors have stepped down as part of a succession strategy. Birkelund will become a senior advisor of Enterprise Investors after serving as chairman for 16 years. Faris resigned from his position of president, to be replaced by Jacek Siwicki, who has been managing partner since 2000 and also joins the board of directors. Faris, who also held the role for 16 years, is now chairman of the board of directors. Vice presidents Agnieszka Kowalska, Rafal Bator and Sebastian Krol have also been promoted to partner as part of the succession strategy.

NBGI Private Equity, a UK lower mid-market private equity firm, has expanded its team with the appointment of Nick Gibbons as investment manager. Gibbons joins from listed energy business Centrica, where he spent four years in the corporate strategy, commercial and business development teams. Before that, he worked for LEK Consulting in London and Los Angeles, advising on M&A transactions.

Waterland Private Equity, a European mid-market private equity firm, has strengthened its German senior investment team with two hires. Jörg Dreisow has joined Waterland as investment director from TA Triumph-Adler, a German office stationary supplier, where he was head of group development. Before that, he was chief financial officer of myToys.de, a German online toy store, and engagement manager in the Munich office of McKinsey & Co. David Zimmer has joined Waterland Private Equity as senior investment manager from TMobile, where he was in the group strategy department.

Ingenious Media, a media investment and advisory group which launched an AIM-listed investment company investing in media companies at the beginning of the year, has appointed two former Bridgewell Securities executives for its new business, Ingenious Securities. Robert Benton and Richard Jeffrey have been appointed chief executive and head of securities respectively of Ingenious Securities, which is due to be launched at the beginning of 2007. The new business will focus excluvisely on media companies, predominantly those with market values of between £50 million and £500 million.

BC Partners has hired Antonio Belloni as managing partner of its Italian team. Based in Milan he will become one of BC Partners' eight managing partners from the beginning of November. He will also become vice president and managing director of BC Partners's Italian advisory company, where Francesco Conte remains managing director. Belloni, 56, previously held several positions as managing director in industrial and financial companies. In the last few years, he was managing director of DeAgostini, the family owned publishing group.