Elly Blanksma may not be a name familiar to many in the global private equity industry. Yet practitioners in the Netherlands are well acquainted with her given the recent criticism she has made of alternative asset managers.
The increasing influence of private equity and hedge funds in the Netherlands has generated some hostility, as figures from across the political spectrum join forces to attack the two groups. In the latest example of the backlash against the industry, senior alternative asset managers were recently summoned before the Dutch parliament in The Hague.
In a heated session, figures from both the political left and right criticised the way foreign investors allegedly use innovative investments as means of asset stripping, with Blanksma declaring: “This ransacking of the country is not welcome”.
The views of Blanksma, a senior MP in the ruling Christian Democrat party, illustrates the wide-ranging nature of opposition to the industry in the Netherlands. Her party is considered pro-business, so its scepticism is alarming and surprising to those in the firing line.
Industry insiders feel much of the criticism is unjust, claiming for one thing that private equity and hedge funds have been lumped together. Certainly, private equity has attracted its fair share of attention in the country through Apax Partners' takeover of publisher PCM and the ongoing attempts to break up the conglomerate Stork.
However, much of the current outcry has been fuelled by hedge fund TCI's instrumental role in the break up of banking group ABN Amro. Proposed legislative changes mooted at the Dutch parliamentary meeting are more likely to damage the hedge fund industry, sources say.
One industry insider said: “The Dutch people are worried about private equity as an unknown presence. There are positive stories to tell of businesses being turned around but they get lost amidst the media blaze which follows the next big takeover.”
At the moment, private equity is provoking fear that it is a foreign threat to Dutch economic stability. As elsewhere, the industry has much work to do to change this perception.
BARCLAYS HIRES MEZZANINE FUNDRAISER
Barclays Private Equity has hired Christiian Marriott from Mezzanine Management to head its investor relations activities. Prior to Mezzanine Management, Marriott worked at Thomson Financial and Campbell Lutyens. Barclays Private Equity's client services are currently managed by Brian Blakemore, who is thought to be retiring in 2008. Barclays Private Equity has offices in the UK, Milan, Munich, Paris and Zurich, and has raised £1 billion since inception in 1997. The group invests on behalf of its parent Barclays Bank as well as third parties.
According to market sources, Mezzanine Management is currently preparing to close its latest investment fund, which is aimed at mezzanine investments and sponsorless deals in Europe and North America.
AUGUST PROMOTES SIX
UK-based buyout firm August Equity has made six internal promotions. Sam Watkinson, who joined August in 2005, and who sits on the board of Imagine Publishing and Planit Holdings, has been appointed as director. Fraser Davidson and David Ramsey have both been promoted to investment directors. Martin Horne has been appointed as portfolio director, while Louise Ward has been promoted to investor relations and marketing manager. Donna Wade now serves as management accountant. London-based August Equity has £250 million (€367 million, $494 million) under management.
ALTIMO RECRUITS US DIPLOMAT
London-based Altimo has recruited US diplomat Jack Rosen to its international advisory board. Rosen is the chief executive of international real estate development firm Rosen Partners, and chairs the American Jewish Congress and the Council for World Jewry. He has acted as a state department delegate to the Organisation of the American States, and has served on the New Jersey governor's Commission on International Trade. Altimo was originally the Russian private equity firm Alfa Telecom but re-branded and moved to London in 2006. The firm makes telecoms investments in Russia, Eastern Europe and the CIS. Its stakes include Russian mobile phone operators VimpelCom and MegaFon, the Turkish mobile company Turkcell, and Sky Mobile, the biggest mobile provider in Kyrgyzstan.
AXON PARTNERS MAKES TWO SENIOR HIRES
Swiss advisory firm Axon Partners has hired Joseph Porterfield as partner in its placement team, and Magdalena Nowak as head of project management and investor relations. Porterfield was formerly head of Probitas Partners' European operations and a director at American insurer AIG. Novak was previously head of investor relations at Innova Capital, a Polish buyout firm that invests in Central and Eastern Europe. Axon was the placement agent for Innova/4, the firm's latest €225 million ($300 million) fund.
LGT BOLSTERS PRIVATE EQUITY TEAM
LGT Capital Partners has made four private equity appointments to its New York, Hong Kong and Switzerland offices. Singaporean Andrew Kwee has been hired to head the US private equity office in New York. Kwee was previously at GIC Special Investments, the private equity business of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, where he created and managed its New York operations. The firm has also hired Doug Coulter to head its Asian private equity investments from the Hong Kong office. Coulter was formerly at the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) in Hong Kong and Washington. Swiss national Jurg Burkhard has joined the Pfaffikon office to manage the firm's private equity portfolio and risk management activities. Alexandre Delos, who was formerly an investment director at Paris-based fund of funds Access Capital Partners, has also joined the Pfaffikon office.
FOUNDER MANAGING PARTNER QUITS ATP PEP
Jens Bisgaard-Frantzen has unexpectedly resigned from his position as managing partner at ATP PEP, the private equity business of Danish state pension ATP. Bisgaard-Frantzen was recruited in 2001, when the firm was created, to build a private equity fund investment platform. The firm, which recently opened a New York office, has €3.5 billion ($4.7 billion) of committed capital, and has invested €1.5 billion to date. Bisgaard-Frantzen is thought to be leaving in order to start his own business in the alternative asset management space. The firm has not appointed a successor. Remaining partners Torben Vangstrup, Susanne Forsingdal and Klaus Ruhne will manage the firm from hereon.
CAPITAL DYNAMICS MAKES THREE PROMOTIONS
Capital Dynamics has promoted John Gripton to managing director and head of investment management in Europe. The firm has also promoted Jackie Horton to head of monitoring and Janice Meston to head of compliance. The firm recently hired Andrew Beaton and David Smith, the co-founders of Glenalta Capital, as managing directors in London. Capital Dynamics has more than $20 billion under management and has offices in Zug, New York, San Francisco, London, Birmingham and Hong Kong.
RBS APPOINTS HEAD OF LEVERAGED CAPITAL MARKETS
The Royal Bank of Scotland has recruited Eric Capp from JP Morgan to head its leveraged capital markets team in Europe and Asia. Capp was previously a managing director and head of European high-yield capital markets at JP Morgan. At RBS, he will report to John Hurricane, head of leveraged finance for the two regions, and David Bassett, the global head of loan markets.
RBS is the latest bank to be strengthening its leverage finance team. Competitor Barclays Capital has also made various promotions within its European leveraged finance team. The bank has promoted Kirk Harrison and Phil Kelleher to the newly created position of co-heads of leveraged product. Barclays has also promoted Jonathan Hosgood and David Shaw as co-heads of sponsor origination.