Robert Smith joins 3i board

The FTSE 100-listed private equity firm has appointed Sir Robert Smith and ex-Mannesmann executive Peter Mihatsch as non-executive directors to the group’s main board.

London-headquartered global private equity firm 3i has announced the appointment of two new non-executive directors to its ten-strong main board.

Sir Robert Smith, chairman of engineering group Weir Group and deputy chairman of energy provider Scottish & Southern Energy, has a strong track record in private equity.

The 60-year-old worked for 3i’s predecessor, ICFC up to 1982 and from 1985 to 1989 was managing director of UK-based Charterhouse Development Capital. He also held the posts of chairman and CEO at Morgan Grenfell Private Equity and was vice chairman of Deutsche Asset Management between 2000 and 2002.

As well as a wealth of commercial and industrial experience, Smith brings considerable corporate governance experience as a former non-executive director of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and a member of the Financial Reporting Council.

63-year-old Dr Peter Mihatsch is currently chairman of the supervisory board of Munich-based technology company Giesecke & Devrient and is also a member of the supervisory board of Vodafone, having previously sat on the management board of Mannesmann.

The appointments increase the size of 3i’s main board to ten members, including three executive members: chief executive Philip Yea, executive director Rod Perry and finance director Michael Queen. The board is led by chairman Baroness Hogg.

Of the six non-executive directors, three are now located outside the UK – France-based Christine Morin-Postel, Fred Steingraber in the US and Mihatsch will continue to operate out of Germany.

Speaking to PrivateEquityOnline, group communications director Patrick Dunne said there had been a deliberate strategy over the last few years by 3i “to increase the internationalisation of the board”.

Dunne added: “Robert brings significant private equity experience and a lot of high quality industrial experience from Weir Group and Scottish & Southern Energy. He’s strong on marketing and has an excellent track record in corporate governance.”

Dunne said that in Germany, Mihatsch would complement 3i’s strong executive team in the region, leveraging his non-executive network of contacts.

The appointments follow the resignation of John Forrest at the AGM in July. Following the criteria set out by the firm’s nominations committee, Dunne said that the aim had been to bring in experienced individuals “with a broad range of industrial perspectives and private equity experience in continental Europe.”

3i used leading search firms and considered “a number of candidates” before making the appointments. Dunne described the appointments as part of an “evolutionary approach” to the board succession process.