Five Questions With… Richard Zannino, Managing Director, CCMP Capital

1) Having served in key executive positions at corporations like Dow Jones and Liz Claiborne, what attracted you to the private equity side of the deal universe?

I saw it as a great opportunity to leverage my multi-disciplinary experience in several industries over a broad array of companies. Beyond that, the job content includes what I really enjoy doing most: setting strategy, executing deals, growing businesses, driving transformation, improving operations, allocating capital, and most of all, creating value for owners, customers and employees.

2) In your new role as co-head of CCMP’s consumer, retail and media investment efforts, which of those particular industry sectors do you find the most attractive today, and why?

I like them all for different reasons. In retail, there are many situations where you see good companies that are under financial duress. [Outdoor apparel retailer] Eddie Bauer was a classic example of that: good brand, good company, but forced into bankruptcy as a result of being over-levered in a difficult economy.

On the media side, disruptive technological change is really transforming the way audiences are consuming media and also the way advertisers are going about reaching those audiences.

3) As the former CEO of Dow Jones, where do you see the most compelling opportunities for investment in the media sector, given the change you just mentioned?

I’m partial to companies that have compelling content at their core. I define that as content that customers must have and can’t get anywhere else. When companies produce compelling content, they’re able to charge for that content and distribute it through many different channels.

4) Has the economic downturn changed any feelings or preconceptions you may have previously had about the consumer or media industries?

I think the financial impact of this downturn will be similar to the impacts of previous downturns. What I’m more focused on are the secular changes that are occurring. Oftentimes, as you go through these down cycles, you’re totally fixated on managing your business to weather the downturn, assuming things will return to normal in the next upturn. But in retail and media, there’s often secular change—some subtle and some not so subtle—in consumer behavior that occurs and is masked in a downturn such that things will never return to normal.

5) What’s one example of that in today’s market?

Using advertising in traditional media as one example, you might be tempted to think that your advertising declines are simply cycle-induced when what’s also happening is that consumers and advertisers are changing their behaviors—going more to the Web, PDAs and recorded television shows for content for example.

Edited for length and clarity