Howell joins PAI in debt investment push

Richard Howell has joined French private equity group PAI as a partner and will be based in the firm’s London office from January.

Howell, who has a wealth of experience structuring complex buyout debt packages, will begin working with PAI’s existing investment partners immediately. The hire has provoked speculation that PAI, which closed a new €5.4bn buyout fundraising this year, could be considering diversifying into the debt market.

In a similar hire, KKR recruited John Empson from JP Morgan earlier this year.

Howell’s most recent role was as head of corporate and acquisition finance at Nomura, having joined the Japanese bank as part of the takeover of Lehman Brothers in Europe. He was previously European co-head of corporate and acquisition finance at Lehman, where he worked for eight years, prior to which he spent nine years at UBS.

At Nomura, Charles Pitts-Tucker will take over from Howell as European head of acquisition and leveraged finance, combining the role with his position as COO of Nomura’s global financing business for EMEA. The pair were formerly co-heads of acquisition finance at Lehman. Pitts-Tucker will continue to report to Philippe du Fournier.

Elizabeth Moore will report to Pitts-Tucker as head of leveraged and corporate capital markets. She joined Lehman two years ago from Merrill Lynch and was previously at JP Morgan.

In May PAI Partners closed the largest private equity fund ever raised in Continental Europe, totalling €5.4bn. Some 130 investors from 23 countries committed capital to PAI Europe V. About 63% of funds came from Europe.

PAI has traditionally targeted larger private equity transactions ranging from €500m in enterprise value, with a focus on the services, capital goods and consumer goods sectors. Prior to the close of the PAI Europe V fund, PAI had completed 34 LBO transactions, representing more than €28bn in transaction value.

In July PAI launched Akkadia, a new investment firm dedicated to buying significant minority stakes in listed mid-cap companies. Akkadia is headed by Philippe Guez, a 12-year veteran of Deutsche Bank, where he was head of global investment banking in France and head of equities in France and Italy.