Wendel recruits Donnet for Asia push

Wendel, the French-listed investment group, is continuing its efforts to expand outside its home market by launching an Asia-Pacific operation and recruiting Philippe Donnet to run it.

Wendel, a French listed investment group, has recruited Philippe Donnet from Axa Group to spearhead its push into the Asia-Pacific region.

Donnet, who joins as a managing director, will be based in the firm’s newly-established Singapore office and will lead its investment activity across the Asia-Pacific region.

The move continues Wendel’s efforts to expand outside its highly competitive home market in France, where the group has been investing for over 300 years. The firm wants to make acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific region, where several of its portfolio companies already operate.

Under the leadership of chief executive Jean-Bernard Lafonta, Wendel has been re-inventing itself as a control investor, and last year made its first acquisitions outside France. These included the $1.04 billion (€829 million) deal for US haulage company Deutsch, where it beat US firms Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group at auction.

Donnet had been at Axa since 1985, initially in France before being appointed chief executive of Axa Italy in 1999. After overseeing a successful restructuring of the Italian division, he was promoted to oversee the whole Mediterranean region and Canada and appointed to the group’s executive committee. In 2003, he was made chief executive of Axa Japan, where he again led a successful turnaround, leading to his remit being extended to the entire Asia Pacific region. He will remain as chairman of the Axa Japan board following his move to Wendel.