People moves

Maurizio Bianco has been appointed to lead a new Italian office of private equity group Electra Partners Europe in Milan. In a related move, the firm will change its name to Cognetas.

Bianco joins the company from Euromobiliare Private Equity and two other experienced professionals in this area will also join the new office. He aims to focus on deals between €100m and €500m.

The new name comes from the Latin words cognition, or “knowledge”, and netas, “to weave or join together”. The firm says it reflects its investment approach, “working in partnership with management”.

The move marks a departure from the group’s original parent company Electra Fleming, which managed the Electra Investment Trust. This was successfully defended against a hostile bid from fellow venture capitalist 3i in 1999.

The firm, which has €2.26bn under management, recently sold vinyl floor covering group Amtico for £98m. This was one of the last investments from Cognetas’ original portfolio, prompting the name change to “remove confusion with Electra Private Equity” according to managing partner Nigel McConnell.

European private equity firm Bridgepoint today announced that John Barber has been appointed Partner, leading Bridgepoint’s Investor Services team, in succession to Graham Dewhirst who is retiring from the firm. He will join Bridgepoint in early 2007.Barber, who will also serve on Bridgepoint’s Operating and Investment Committees, is currently a managing director at Helix Associates, the private equity placement agents. Before joining Helix in 1997, he co-founded Yucatan Foods in Santa Monica, California, a speciality food company where he arranged several rounds of equity and debt financings. He previously worked at WSGP Partners, a private equity firm established by former US Treasury Secretary William E Simon in Los Angeles, and at Morgan Stanley, working in corporate finance and in its offices in New York, London and Sydney.

He is a member of the Investor Relations Committee of the European Venture Capital Association.

Simon Clarke has been appointed managing director and head of leveraged finance within corporate finance at NIBC. NIBC is a Merchant Bank focusse4d on the mid-cap segment in North West Europe. This appointment illustrates the banks desire to expand its presence in the leveraged finance arena. Before NIBC, Clarke was at ING, where he was a founding member of the Acquisition Finance team and eventually became head of Acquisitions Finance & Sponsor coverage in New York. From 1984 until 1996 when he joined ING he worked at NatWest.