BRIEFS – People –

Lawrence Benjamin has been named chief executive of The NutraSweet Co. For the past eight years, Benjamin has been a senior operating executive and advisor for Oak Hill Capital and Roark Capital Group.

Hamilton James has been named vice chairman of The Blackstone Group. As part of the agreement, James resigned as chairman of private equity and investment banking at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Olivier Lesca has joined 3i Group as a director focused on French and cross-border buyouts. Formerly an investment banker at UBS Warburg, Lesca will work out of 3i Group’s London and Paris offices.

Claus Peter, formerly a managing director of European leveraged finance for Merrill Lynch in Frankfurt, has joined SG, the banking arm of Societe Generale. Peter will serve as a managing director for SG, which is hoping to build up its German LBO presence. He is expected to be the first hire, and leader, of a new three-person team.

Larry Sorrel has decided to leave Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe to help head up the PE practice at Thomas Weisel Partners. Sorrel is filling a nine-month-old vacancy created by the departure of Alan Menkes, who left in January to launch a LBO shop along with fellow Weisel defectors Dan Dross and Keith Oster. Weisel said that it plans to add two more managing directors of private equity in the coming months.

Jaime Carvajal Urquijo has been named chairman of Advent International’s new office in Madrid, Spain. He will be joined by both Juan Diaz-Laviada, managing director of Spain for Advent, and Luis Camilleri.

Marsha Yuan joined The Riverside Co. in New York as an associate. She previously served as a financial analyst with Merrill Lynch in its mergers and acquisitions group.