So Guy Hands is fighting his battle to turn EMI into a respectable company on a public stage the size of the Glastonbury music festival. Very un-private equity, that: most of Terra Firma's LBO peers would have tried to turn the volume down and make changes to the business with the lights switched off. Not so Hands, who is doing what he's doing in full view of the media. It's been tough going, but the irrepressible Hands, fuelled as ever by the formidable powers of his conviction, almost looks as though he is enjoying the heat.
To be sure, privacy was never an option on this one. The music company is among the most high-profile assets ever to be sold to a buyout fund, and with private equity's well-documented image problems unresolved, Terra Firma's purchase of the business was always going to be a massive story. In particular, the possibility of EMI proving a deal too far for Hands had journalists excited from day one. His confirmation in mid-January of 2,000 pending job cuts at the company stoked the fires. The likes of Robbie Williams and the Rolling Stones turning their back on the man then sent headline writers into a frenzy.
Intriguingly, however, Hands has had surprisingly good press in recent weeks. He has given himself unreservedly to the task of explaining again and again what needs to be done to a company that spends £25 million a year on scrapping CDs it couldn't shift, and to an industry failing to manage its most important assets: the artists. Now that he has made his case, many business and even music journalists seem to be finding themselves quietly agreeing with him.
It is as though pundits are sick and tired of hearing rock n' roll apologists banging on about musicians living in a “creative” world where the rules of business don't apply. “Hands appears to be getting it right at EMI” was the headline of Jeremy Warner's business column in The Independent newspaper on 22 January. A consensus appears to be taking shape around this view. Note also a recent Telegraph article, which said: “When the smoke clears, it has to be acknowledged that Hands has faced the facts that EMI had tried to hide from.”
In buying EMI, Hands has taken on a franchise risk. If he loses, a busload of Schadenfreude will come his way. But if he wins, even people who until recently had nothing but suspicion for guys in suits will be joining in the standing ovation.
TELECOM EXPERT SWITCHES TO GA
General Atlantic has recruited John Bernstein as a managing director from European mid-market buyout firm Advent International, where he worked for 12 years. Bernstein headed the London branch of Advent's European telecoms and technology team. He led investments in 14 companies at Advent. These included the buyout of UK wireless network provider Aircom International for an undisclosed sum in 2005 and the firm's $72 million (€49 million) joint venture growth capital investment in Jazztel in 1999 in the run up to the Spanish telecoms company's $172 million initial public offering in the same year. He previously worked in the capital markets and mergers and acquisitions teams of European bank Hambros from 1984 and as a partner at management consultancy InterMatrix from 1989.
DOUBLE HIRE AT INFLEXION
Inflexion Private Equity, the European mid-market buyout firm, has recruited Gareth Healy and Malcolm Coffin as investment director and investment executive from European banks Close Brothers and NM Rothschild & Sons respectively. Healy was a managing director at Close Brothers where he advised the private equity community and was head of initial public offerings and management advisory as well as co-head of the technology team. Coffin worked in Rothschild's consumer products mergers & acquisitions team as assistant manager. Before joining Rothschild, Coffin trained as a chartered accountant at Deloitte & Touche.
DICKINSON MOVES FROM 3I TO CANDOVER
European buyout firm Candover has recruited Mark Dickinson as a director from global investment firm 3i. During his ten years at 3i Dickinson led several buyouts, mainly in the support services, leisure and oil and gas sectors. Dickinson coordinated 3i's role in the $925 million (€631 million) acquisition of oil and gas company Vetco International, alongside Candover and US bank JP Morgan. Vetco was divided into two units sold to GE Capital for $1.9 billion and Ferd Private Equity for $900 million in 2007, generating a return of 4.1 times. He also headed up the $700 million buyout of Dockwise, the oil and gas rig transportation company, in December 2006. Dockwise was then merged with Sealift and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange with an enterprise value of $2 billion in May 2007.
GE BOLSTERS LEVERAGED FINANCE TEAM
The leveraged finance division of General Electric has recruited Jean Marc Barrabes as head of leveraged finance in France from Bank of Ireland. Barrabes will report to Thierry Willieme, chief executive of GE's leveraged finance operation. The previous Paris head, Luis Mayans, has moved internally within General Electric. Before joining GE, Barrabes was head of Bank of Ireland's acquisition finance division in France for three years. He was previously an investment director at Royal Bank of Scotland Private Equity for three years and a director of acquisition finance at Bank of Scotland in Paris from 1995 to 2000. He began his career in 1993 as an analyst for electronics and defence contractor Thomson-CSF, which became the Thales Group, in London.
GREENHILL ADDS PPM DUO
The European private equity arm of investment bank Greenhill has appointed Adam Maidment and Cameron Crockett as principals. Maidment and Crockett have both joined Greenhill from European buyout firm PPM Capital where they have worked together since 2002. Brian Philips, chief investment officer of Greenhill's European private equity arm, said: “We've got ourselves up and running with the team in situ, although it took a little while to arrive.” The team now comprises five people.