For those convinced of the benefits of long-term commitment to private equity, it has always been a source of frustration that European pension funds have typically been willing to commit such a small proportion of their total funds under management to the asset class. But thanks to organisations like Netherlandsbased pension adviser Cardano, that may be about to change.

Cardano, which was formed in Rotterdam in 2000 and advises over 70 European pensions and insurance companies, has just recruited Anna Dayn to the London office it launched in July 2007. The firm's ‘solvency management’ offering to its pension clients includes asset allocation and manager selection decisions. Dayn, who was previously part of the funds of funds team at Swiss asset manager and adviser Capital Dynamics, joins a team of unlisted funds experts that also includes those focussed on real estate and infrastructure investment.

Phil Page, client manager and head of infrastructure at Cardano, says: “Part of our solvency management approach is a greater allocation to non-traditional investments. We see it as a great opportunity. The large UK pension funds' average commitment to private equity is about two percent, but some of the most intelligent and sharpest people in the investment world are working in private equity firms. And yet pensions put 50 percent into listed equities where it's more competitive and there are fewer decent opportunities.”

Page says that, at the current time, Cardano is “looking increasingly at distressed funds and away from very large buyouts to good managers who can weather the storm, including niche and mid-market managers”. Dayn's “excellent contacts” will assist in this process, he adds.

Cardano is headed by group chief executive Theo kocken, former head of market risk at ING and Rabobank International, and UK chief executive kerrin Rosenberg, a former investment consultant at Hewitt Associates.

Apollo Global Management and Lazard Group have formed a nonexclusive strategic partnership to pursue private equity investments in Europe. Investment professionals from the two firms will “work closely together” seeking out European investment opportunities, according to a statement. Both firms will have dedicated teams based in London although most aspects of the partnership have not yet been ironed out, according to a source familiar with the situation. Apollo and Lazard will continue working with other financial advisory and private equity firms. Although details of the partnership were not disclosed, the pairing brings together the financial heavyweights of Leon Black and Bruce Wasserstein.

Dick Munton, one of the founding partners of London-based private equity firm Cinven, is scaling back his private equity activity after nearly 30 years. He will remain as a partner, working at the firm for several days per month. The list of deals Munton has led includes the buyouts of companies such as bingo and gambling giant Gala Coral Group, Unique Pub Company, United Biscuits, the cinema chain Odeon and Italian aerospace group Avio. Munton's semi-retirement comes as Cinven gears up to raise its fifth fund. The firm is likely to begin fundraising towards the end of 2009 with a target of between €8 billion ($12 billion) and €10 billion, depending on market conditions, an industry source said.

Candover, the London-listed private equity group, has unveiled its fourstrong investment team charged with sourcing opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe. The team, which is to be run by former JPMorgan Partners European head Lindsay Stuart, will source deals across the Baltic and Balkan states and the Western CIS countries. Joining Stuart as directors are Urmas Paavel, former head of the EBRD's private equity unit; Felix Potishman, an EBRD banker specialising in retail and FMCG deals; and Milan Hladik, a direct fund management veteran, also from the EBRD.

Daniel Waterhouse has left his role as a sector partner at 3i to join German tech- and life sciences-focussed venture firm Wellington Partners. Waterhouse started at 3i in early 2006, focusing on its digital media and technology portfolios. He was involved with companies including mobile search engine, travel site and the website for luxury lingerie brand Agent Provacateur. From 1999 to 2005 he was based in the London office of Yahoo!, where as a part of its corporate development team he was “involved deeply in the acquisitions of kelkoo and Zed”, Wellington said in a statement.

BNP Paribas has launched an inhouse distressed finance group within its corporate and investment banking division to focus on what it calls “attractive business opportunities” in distressed trading, rescue financing and turnaround investing. The French bank, which maintains an in-house private equity arm called BNP Paribas Private Equity, has tapped its co-head of European high yield capital markets, Alain Dib, to lead the unit. Dib has 16 years of experience in leveraged finance working with financial sponsors, corporate and institutional investors.

London-based secondaries house Vision Capital has boosted its headcount to 27 with the hires of Lorenzo Russo and Daryl Cohen to its investment team. Russo, an Italian national, joins from retail and consumer specialist Change Capital, where he was a director. Before joining Change in 2003, he was at TD Capital. Cohen's career includes stints in Goldman Sachs' leveraged finance team, Hicks Muse Tate & Furst and Silver Point Principal Finance Europe. Vision has also formally become a limited liability partnership.

William Reeve has joined European venture firm DFJ Esprit as a venture partner. Reeve was previously chief operating officer of LOVEFiLM International, an online film rental company that in 2006 merged with DFJ Esprit-backed, which Reeve founded in 2003. Characterised as a “serial entrepreneur”, DFJ Esprit said in a statement that Reeve has 11 years of experience as an internet entrepreneur and “is a serial investor in the UK highgrowth scene”, with active involvement in companies including, a healthy food home delivery start-up, and real estate valuation site

Aberdeen Asset Management, a UK lower mid-market private equity firm, has become independent of its publicly listed parent. Senior executives Francesco Santinon, Andy Glennon and Colin Stirling led a management buyout and formed Spirit Capital, assuming roughly £100 million (€126 million; $180 million) of capital the team managed at Aberdeen. Spirit will also manage current Aberdeen portfolio companies. Seven of their former Aberdeen colleagues have also joined Spirit, which will operate from London and Leeds locations. Graham Dewhirst, former head of investor relations at Bridgepoint Capital, will join the firm as chairman.

Investor Growth Capital has promoted the co-head of its US venture investing group, Stephen Campe, to president, effective from the start of December. Campe succeeds Henry Gooss who will remain as a senior advisor to the firm. Investor Growth's new president has been with the company for more than ten years, during which time he led investments in medical device and diagnostics companies. Investor Growth Capital is the venture capital arm of Nordic industrial holding company Investor AB.

Sovereign Capital, the UK buy-and-build specialist, has promoted three of its directors, Dominic Dalli, David Myers and kevin Whittle, to partner. Dalli has been with the firm since 2002 and has focused on Sovereign's healthcare investments. Myers, who joined Sovereign in 1997, leads the firm's direct origination team, while Whittle heads up Sovereign's portfolio development team and has been involved in several of the firm's exits. The promotions come on the back of five hires to Sovereign this year.

UK-based mid-market investor HSBC Private Equity has further augmented its staff with the appointment of Basil Sakellis, part of European Capital's UK buyout team since 2006, as investment manager. HSBC Private Equity in August hired ex-Nikko Principle Investments team member Grant O'Neill as an investment director, as well as Helen Posner as an associate. In May European Capital lost its head of buyouts, Simon Henderson, who resigned and was replaced by team members Giles Cheek and Alex Morey.