Moulton leaves Alchemy

Alchemy Partners’ founding partner Jon Moulton has left the London-based firm as the buyout industry struggles with the aftermath of the credit crisis.

Dominic Slade, who led the firm’s buyout business, will take over the helm at Alchemy, as media reports state there had been a difference of opinion between the two investors, triggering Moulton’s retirement ahead of its scheduled date in October 2010.

A spokesman provided no details and did not say what was behind the departure.

However, Moulton has not been so quiet about his departure. In a letter to investors, Moulton, 57, said that he had no intention of retiring shy of turning 60, but that he saw no other viable option.

Moulton writes that he owes investors a number of apologies, including “too many investment and people errors.” Not only does Moulton specifically recommend that Slade not be promoted, but he added that there “have been continuing concerns about [Slade’s] performance.”

The credit crunch has rocked Alchemy and other private equity firms that no longer have access to the heavy borrowing their business model relies on, while the companies they own are suffering in the economic downturn.

Alchemy has held off investing in companies since the autumn of 2008 when it acquired Ireland’s Noonan Services, a cleaning business—and Moulton said in May that he was in no hurry to start buying again.

Moulton at a conference earlier this year warned that close to a third of the private equity industry’s mid-market portfolio companies could fail, as the economic downturn across Europe turned into recession. —Victoria Howley and Douwe Miedema, Reuters. PE Week contributed to this report.