Friends reunited

Global private equity firm Permira has capped off its newly formed financial services team with the appointment of LEK Consulting's James Fraser.

As an alumnus of LEK, Fraser is in good company at his new workplace. Damon Buffini, who became chairman of Permira at the end of 2007, cut his teeth at the consulting group before being hired by Schroders Ventures Europe – Permira's forebear – in 1988.

Fraser did not, however, track his new employer down via the LEK alumni website, or even Friends Reunited. According to a statement from Permira's comanaging partner Kurt Björklund, Fraser has “worked closely”with Permira in the past.

Fraser spent 20 years at LEK, latterly co-heading the firm's global financial services practice. At Permira he will lead a team of 11 professionals sourcing financial sector investment opportunities from the firm's 11 offices around the world.

Permira's exposure to the financial services sector currently consists of its investment in Acromas, a holding company formed following the £6 billion (€7.4 billion; $9.7 billion)merger of UK businesses Saga and theAA in September 2007. Through its two subsidiaries, Acromas provides retail insurance products to drivers and those aged over 50.

Other senior members of Permira's staff with a financial services background include John Coyle, former global head of the financial sponsors group at JP Morgan Securities; Gerrit Zalm, a former Dutch minister of finance; and Daniel Healy, a formerNorth Fork Bank chief financial officer and executive vice president.

In July, Permira opened its Hong Kong office with the hire of former Goldman Sachs veteran Henry Chan as head of Greater China. The firm is now in the process of opening its 12th office in San Francisco, which will be led by partner Richard Sanders, formerly of the London office, and Ignacio Faus from Permira's Madrid office.

EUROPE IN BRIEF
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has hired Gianemilio Osculati, an Italian business consulting veteran, to be its senior adviser in the country. Osculati will work with KKR's country head Mattia Caprioli with a focus on sourcing Italian investment opportunities. Co-founder of KKR Henry Kravis pointed to Osculati's “unique network and relationships” as being an important reason for the hire, adding that his contacts would “bring significant value to [the firm's] business and enhance KKR's franchise in this market”.

Advent International has augmented its stable of operating partners with Paolo Cantarella, the former chief executive of Italian automaker Fiat. Cantarella led Fiat from 1996 to 2002 and has held other positions including president of the EuropeanAutomobile Manufacturers Association and director on the organising committee for the 2006Winter Olympic Games held in Turin.

French venture capital firm Truffle Capital has hired its first chief financial officer, Gwen Chapman, who joins the firm from Mentor, a supplier of cosmetic surgery products. At Mentor, Chapman helped with the post-acquisition integration of French medical device maker Pérouse Plastie.

BOWING OUT
European mid-market GP Argos Soditic is to part company with Matteo Carlotti, its head of Italian operations, due to “to strategic disagreements about the scope of Argos Soditic's future operations in the Italian private equity market”, according to a statement from the firm. Carlotti, who joined the firm in 1997, will be replaced at the Milan office's helm by current partners Jean-Pierre Di Benedetti and Mirco Dilda, who become joint managing directors.

Charlie Bott, chairman of Goldman Sachs' financial sponsors group in Europe, is retiring after 22 years at the firm. During his tenure he developed the bank's relationship with such firms as Apax Partners, Cinven, BC Partners and Providence Equity Partners, according to an internal memo seen by PrivateEquityOnline. Bott joined Goldman's corporate finance practice in 1986 and was appointed as head of the European financial sponsors division in 1994.

UK MID-MARKET
London-based Silverfleet Capital has grown its investment team with the hire of Johannes Huttunen as executive. Huttunen, a Finnish national brought up in the UK, joins from European Capital. Prior to his time at European Capital, Huttunen worked on mergers and acquisitions at Deutsche Bank.

European mid-market investor Duke Street has hired Miles Cresswell-Turner as a partner and financial services manager. Cresswell previously spent 10 years as a partner at Palamon Capital Partners, where he maintained a particular emphasis on growth strategies and buy-and-build implementation. Prior to Palamon, Cresswell spent seven years at HSB Investment Management within its specialised finance team.

Lloyds TSB Development Capital has appointed Daniel Sasaki as a director to focus on investments in the telecoms, media and technology sectors in London. Sasaki co-founded Hemisphere Capital, an independent merchant bank which focuses on growth transactions, in 2002. As managing partner at the bank he provided clients with M&A advice, capital raising and business development services.

UK-based growth investor Foresight Group has opened a new office in Rome, to focus on identifying and executing investment opportunities in southern Europe. The office is led by Luca Passariello, formerly of consultancy firm Bain & Co, who has been appointed as European general manager to spearhead the group's activities in the region.