Standard Bank suffers PE exodus

Graham Thomas, global head of private equity at South African lender Standard Bank, has left the company as it scales back principal investment activities, with more departures to follow.

Graham Thomas, a London-based managing director and head of Standard Bank’s private equity division, left the business last Friday. The bank confirmed his departure, adding that, “In line with Standard Bank’s focused strategy we continue to scale back our principal investing business”.

Marcelo di Lorenzo, the head of Standard Bank's Brazil-based private equity team, has also left the bank, it emerged Monday, while its deputy global head, Bilge Ogut, is also leaving, according to a spokesperson.

Both Ogut and di Lorenzo were high-level appointments made by Thomas last year as the bank sought to enlarge its private equity division.

Ogut, formerly a partner at buyout house Warburg Pincus, joined as deputy global head of private equity and head of the bank’s Turkey-based team. Di Lorenzo, a former managing director at Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, joined to head Standard Bank’s Brazilian team. A third hire, Navaid Burney, joined as head of its Johannesburg, South Africa-based private equity team, having left Emerging Capital Partners, the Africa-focused buyout firm he founded. Burney remains at the bank.

Thomas joined Standard Bank in 2008 from buyout firm MidOcean Partners, where he was a founding partner. Before joining Deutsche Bank, from which MidOcean spun out in 2003, he was a founding member of Goldman Sachs’ communications, media and technology practice in Europe, having joined the bank in 1993.

There has been speculation that Standard Bank would spin off its private equity team, although no such move has been forthcoming. The bank's spokesperson said: “The remaining businesses within the international principal investing area are Standard Ünlü’s private equity and distressed debt businesses, the distressed debt business in Asia and the Frontier Markets Fund Managers (FMFM) group.”

Standard Bank’s private equity business encompasses direct investment teams in South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey and Brazil and joint venture funds in Dubai and South East Asia. The business has funds under management of more than $1 billion. It typically invests between $10 million and $50 million in a deal, according to its website.