European People Briefs, October 2011

Alchemy Sheds Staff

Olivia Roberts

has left distressed investor Alchemy Partners to join Palamon Capital Partners as an associate principal.

There have also been reports that a senior executive at London-based Alchemy is preparing to defect to Barclays Private Equity.

Any departures would come almost exactly two years after the acrimonious resignation of former Alchemy chief Jon Moulton, who told investors at the time that “events and performance mean I am afraid that I am unable to recommend that [new managing partner] Dominic Slade succeed me.”

He also advised that Alchemy wind down its portfolio.

Roberts spent six years with Alchemy, investing in high-growth service businesses.

She joins a Palamon team of 20 currently investing the firm’s second fund in growth businesses across Europe.

Hanna Flies from Phoenix to Electra

On the cusp of what it expects to be “a very good period for investing” London-based mid-market investor Electra Partners has hired Chris Hanna as an investment partner.

He will help deploy Electra’s £350 million ($400 million) in funds that focus on U.K.-based businesses valued between £75 million ($86 million) and £300 million ($344 million).

Hanna was most recently at Phoenix Equity Partners, another generalist investor. Hanna’s investments there included the £49 million ($56 million) secondary buyout of Nationwide Autocentres, which realized a 3x money return on exit in 2010, as well food logistics company NFT and oil services provider ASCO.

Electra has made two direct investments since January 2011, including hot water treatment specialist Sentinel Performance Solutions and fine art materials supplier Daler-Rowney.

Walker Tapped to Help Direct the Directors

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has named Sir David Walker, the former CEO of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), as its new director general.

Walker said he would campaign for the growth and competitiveness of British business while at the IoD, which represents the interests of company directors to government.

“We’ve taken the U.K.’s competitiveness for granted for too long and now find ourselves with an excessively high tax burden, an overregulated labor market and creaking transport and energy infrastructures,” he said.

Walker assumes his new role in early October, succeeding Miles Templeman who steps down after a seven-year term as director general.

Walker was succeeded in March as head of the BVCA by Mark Florman.

F&C Adds Hastie to Woo Investors

Scottish asset manager F&C Investments has created a new role on its private equity team as it seeks to develop its fund-of-funds business.

Stuart Hastie will become as associate director responsible for investor relations, fundraising and product development at the company’s Edinburgh-based office.

He joins from Lloyds Bank, where he served as a relationship manager for private equity funds.

Hamish Mair, head of private equity funds at F&C, said that growing investor appetite for mid-sized European buyouts, which is the firm’s area of focus, led to the creation of the role.

Listed trust F&C Private Equity has about £220 million ($350 million) under management; it invested £14 million ($22 million) in the first half of 2011 and distributed £19 million ($30 million) in the same period.

BGF Names Scottish Investment Director

Cruise Fashion

has seen Duncan Macrae, its finance director, jump ship to head investment in Scotland for the United Kingdom’s new Business Growth Fund (BGF).

Macrae joins a three-member team, which he has been tasked with expanding, at the BGF’s Edinburgh-based office, from where he will source, execute and manage investments in Scotland and the North of England.

Despite his previous role at a luxury retail brand, Macrae has considerable private equity experience, having spent 10 years at Dunedin Capital Partners.

In August, BGF appointed Baxters Food Group CEO Audrey Baxter and Stephen Murphy, CEO of Virgin Group, to its board as non-executive members.

The BGF is backed by Britain’s major retail banks.