M&S chairman moves to private equity

Marks & Spencer chairman Luc Vandevelde will make his first foray in private equity in the new year with a new fund called Change Capital Partners, unconnected with the retail chain. His position as chairman will move to a part-time basis from 1 January, when he will spend 60 per cent of his time dedicated to the company. The board of M&S is aware of Vandevelde’s plans and confirms that the activity he is undertaking is not in conflict with his role as chairman of M&S.

Private equity is new ground for Vandevelde whose background is in the consumer industry, where he has worked all over Europe for Kraft foods and Carrefour, prior to his position at M&S. He wanted to find a new venture that would make use of his skills-base in consumer industries Europe-wide.

The new venture is a four-man partnership. Joining Vandevelde are Steven Petrow, a former managing partner of Bain Capital, head of European operations; Frederic Hufkens, founder of Hufkens Assets Management, and Philip Renaud, a private equity investor, who has experience of investing family money across the US, Canada and Europe.

The fund has secured £300 million from cornerstone investors, the Halley family, founders of the Promodes supermarket chain and who hold a 10-11 per cent stake in Carrefour. The Halley family are keen to expand their investment portfolio and regard Change Capital Partners as a prime opportunity. With this funding behind them, the team has everything in place to start investments in the new year. The firm is currently setting up base in the Kings Road, London and hopes to be operational by the end of January.

The fund will be focusing on small to mid-sized buyouts in consumer industries which is where Vandevelde’s skills lie and where the Halley family is knowledgeable. The fund will also be open to co-investment opportunities.