For someone identified as part of a secret army, 46 year-old Huth is actually quite high profile. By the time he joined KKR seven years ago, Huth had already compiled an impressive CV, initially in the M&A department of Salomon Brothers in New York and latterly as joint head of Europe at Bahrain-based buyout house Investcorp, where he was also a member of the investment committee.
In the context of Huth's KKR career, November 2 2004 was perhaps the most significant day yet. It was then that the official announcement was made that he would succeed Ned Gilhuly as KKR's number one in Europe, Gilhuly having taken the decision to head back to the States after six years of building the firm's European franchise from its London base.
A German national, Huth's mandate is European rather than German in nature. However, since Huth's appointment, his country of birth has certainly been a focal point. For example, among its nine European investments last year, KKR teamed with Goldman Sachs to agree the €4 billion acquisition of forklift manufacturer Kion from Linde, and with Permira to agree the purchase of a 50.5 percent stake in ProSiebenSat.1 for €3.1 billion.
Huth is likely to have busy year ahead of him. In addition to consolidating existing investments and making new ones, expect KKR Europe to continue its recruitment effort and ponder its strategy in markets where it has not yet made its presence felt to the fullest: Spain and Scandinavia, for example.
TODD FISHER, PARTNER OF KKR AND CO-FOUNDER OF EUROPEAN OPERATIONS
A 13-year KKR veteran, 41 year-old Fisher co-founded the London office with Gilhuly in 1999. The ascension to the European throne of Huth in 2004 came as a surprise to those who viewed Fisher as the natural successor. Prior to joining KKR, Fisher spent time in the corporate finance department of Goldman Sachs, where he was involved mainly in Latin American transactions, and in the corporate financings and M&A team at Drexel Burnham Lambert – an organisation inextricably linked with KKR given its involvement in the RJR Nabisco deal. Fisher heads KKR's chemicals and financial services sector teams in Europe and works closely with Capstone Europe, a management consulting operation formed to advise KKR portfolio companies. He is a member of the firm's operating and investment committees.
OTHER KEY EUROPEAN PROFESSIONALS
Jacques Garaïalde was recruited three years ago from rival Carlyle Group, where he headed that firm's Europe Venture Partners fund. Garaïalde sits on the board of directors at Legrand, the French company that KKR acquired for €5.1 billion alongside Wendel Investissement in December 2002.
Reinhard Gorenflos, a former management consultant at LEK, has been with KKR for four years and heads the European utility and transport industry team. He is a member of the portfolio management committee.
Oliver Haarmann, with the firm for seven years, heads the communications industry team in Europe and plays a role in managing the firm's investor relationships. He was previously a principal of private equity funds affiliated to Dillon Read & Co.
Lord Clive Hollick is a former CEO of United Business Media and joined the firm to focus on deals in media and financial services.
Dominic Murphy was recruited from Cinven just over a year ago and heads the healthcare and consumer products industry teams in Europe. He was part of the team responsible for raising Cinven's Fund III, which closed on €4.4 billion in 2002.
John Pfeffer joined KKR five years ago. Head of the European retail industry team, he sits on the boards of Vendex and Toys R Us. Prior to joining KKR, Pfeffer was CEO of Groupe Allium, a computer reseller to corporations and government in France, Italy and Spain.
ASIA: Joseph Bae, partner and head of KKR Asia
November 2005: the date at which Asia braced itself for the arrival of KKR. Heading up a new operation, which was to involve new offices in Tokyo and Hong Kong, was Joseph Bae, a nine-year member of KKR in New York.
Bae, 34, became point man for KKR's media and communications-related investments in New York. He worked closely with two firms – Primedia and PanAmSat – as they expanded their footprints into the Asian market. Primedia, for example, sealed a joint venture with Chinese publisher Cheng Cheng Enterprise Holdings in 2001. Bae continues to sit on Primedia's advisory board.
A New Jersey native of Korean descent, Bae graduated from Harvard College in 1994 and soon after joined Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst in its principal investment department.
In a 1996 New York Times profile of his wedding to writer Janice Lee, Bae was described as “conservative, moderate and business-minded”. As KKR looks to achieve in Asia what it has already accomplished in the US and, to a certain extent, Europe, KKR is hoping Bae proves a solid pair of hands behind the wheel.
TAKETO YAMEKAWA, CEO OF JAPAN OPERATIONS
Yamekawa was selected as the man to spearhead KKR's Japan push, and was appointed to the role in March last year. As CEO of General Electric Corp's consumer finance operations in Japan and Korea, Yamekawa was responsible for a business with over $10 billion in assets and 4,000 employees.
Significantly, Yamekawa also oversaw a major acquisition programme completed by the Japan unit, during which it acquired Lake Co Ltd for $6 billion, Minebea Shinpan for $1.2 billion and Promise Co's credit card business for $600 million, as well as establishing a credit card joint venture with Nissan.
Prior to GE, Yamekawa was at Japanese industrial company Nissho Iwai, where he led acquisitions of stakes in international oil and gas assets on behalf of the firm's liquefied natural gas (LNG) department.
OTHER KEY ASIAN PROFESSIONALS
Naohiko Kitsuta was hired from Japanese private equity firm MKS Partners in February 2007. A partner at MKS since 2001, Kitsuta was head of buyouts in the consumer services and retail sectors. Prior to MKS, Kitsuta was at Boston Consulting Group, where he advised US companies on setting up Japanese subsidiaries.
David Liu joined KKR's Hong Kong office last year as managing director, having previously been managing director and co-head of Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia, where he spent 13 years. He oversaw highly successful investments in Chinese companies Mengniu Dairy and Ping An Insurance.
Ming Lu also joined last year as a managing director in Hong Kong, having formerly been a partner at CCMP Capital Asia. Having worked at Chinese direct investment group CITIC from 1985 to 1993, Lu also had a spell as director of business development at Kraft Foods.