Rearranging of the guard

Montagu and Doughty Hanson are the latest European firms to make room at the top.

Mid-market firm Montagu Private Equity refreshed its senior management in January, promoting chief executive Chris Masterson to the newly created role of chairman. Masterson has been at the firm, which spun out of global banking group HSBC in 2003, for 18 years. His new role will allow him “to focus more on strategic and investment-related matters”, a statement from the firm said. Montagu’s spokeswoman declined to give any more specific details, but stressed that Masterson is in no way stepping back from the firm and will continue to sit on the investment committee.

Masterson is succeeded at the firm’s helm by Jason Gatenby, who joined Montagu in 2000 after having spent a decade at 3i. Gatenby, says a source close to the firm, has the most successful deal-making record at Montagu, having masterminded such deals as the 2005 buyout of Cory Environmental and the £1.7 billion (€2 billion; $2.8 billion) take-private of Biffa, another waste management business, in 2008. Masterson described the move as “a natural evolution”.

Mid-market rival Doughty Hanson also revealed changes, elevating partners John Leahy and Mark Corbidge to co-heads of the European firm’s private equity group, which is currently investing its €3 billion Fund V.

Firm founders and executive co-chairman Nigel Doughty and Dick Hanson are stepping back from the day-to-day management of the private equity business. “These appointments free up Nigel Doughty and me to focus on making investments and interacting with our investors, areas where we feel we can add the most value and which will drive returns,” Hanson said in a statement.

At the time of the changes Corbidge told sister website PrivateEquityOnline that the development is not a “changing of the guard” or succession plan set in motion, but a more a formalisation of a structure already in place. “It’s really business as usual,” he said. “For a while now, Nigel has been focusing very much on investors”, while Hanson has served as a “head deal captain”.

The recent changes follow a number switches at the head of European private equity groups, including Cinven, PAI Partners, Terra Firma and Candover.