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Advent beefs up in Central Europe

Advent International has added three new executives to its Central European team as it prepares to ramp up its investment rate in the region. The group is planning to open an advisory office in Hungary later this year, and Zoltan Toth joins the Central Europe team from Equinox Ventures, Advent’s Hungarian investment partner, where he has worked since 1998.

Martin Duszynski will head the Advent office in Warsaw, after three years developing Communications Equity Associates’ Polish operations. The media and telecommunications sector experience he gained in that role is augmented by private equity expertise dating from his time at Enterprise Investors and Poland Partners.

The third new team member, Peter Brozek, will be a principal in the London-based Central European team. He joins after five years with Booz-Allen & Hamilton, where he worked with companies in the wireless, telecoms, media and IT sectors.

Joanna James, managing director of the Advent International Central European operation, said that the group aims to increase its rate of investment substantially’ in the wake of four successful exits in the region last year, working closely with its investment partners and through its existing advisory offices in Warsaw and Bucharest and the planned Budapest base.

Microsoft’s Svendsen comes on board at West Private Equity

West Private Equity, the investment operation WestLB established early last year, has underlined its commitment to the IT and business support services sectors by appointing David Svendsen as a non-executive member of its Business Council.

Svendsen’s 16-year career with Microsoft began in Australia where, as marketing director, he oversaw the development of Microsoft Pty from its inception in 1994 until 1997. After moving to Microsoft UK, he became managing director in 1988, a post he held for ten years before stepping up to assume the chairmanship. He was also vice president of Microsoft Europe, Middle-East & Africa.

Svendsen will have a dual role at West Private Equity, sourcing and advising on new investment opportunities as well as advising portfolio companies on their technology and communications strategies.

Philip Buscombe, West Private Equity’s chief executive, says the group will gain a distinct competitive advantage’ from Svendsen’s first-hand access to technology industry knowledge.

David Svendsen is also a member of GSC Partners’ European advisory board.

RBDC fills empty seats

Royal Bank Development Capital (RBDC), which last year suffered the defections both of managing director Joe McGrane and the five-strong team that later formed Penta Capital, announced a raft of new appointments at the end of March.

Three of the new recruits were lured from the structured finance department of Bank of Scotland, including its European head, Graham Urquhart. Urquhart has been appointed as assistant director of RBDC’s Edinburgh office alongside another new arrival, investment manager Douglas Hawkins, who was previously director of structured finance at Bank of Scotland in Amsterdam. Hawkins’ fellow director, Alisdair Miller, who, after corporate finance and equity roles concentrated on structuring debt packages for buyouts sourced via Bank of Scotland’s London office, becomes an investment manager in the RBDC Glasgow office. These appointments take the number of RBDC investment executives in Scotland to six, giving the team the capacity to resume something approaching business as usual north of the border.

Down in London, the RBDC team has been strengthened through the addition of director Henry Gregson and investment manager Michelle Newman, taking RBDC’s overall tally of deal-doers to 17.

Gregson joins RBDC after 11 years with Phildrew Ventures, where he was a partner. Michelle Newman was previously a manager of the private equity advisory team within Deloitte & Touche’s London corporate finance operation.

RBDC, which now enjoys the support of the newly merged Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest combine, intends to make further additions to its team, both in the UK and in continental Europe, during the coming months, according to director Tim Farazmand.

Two more quit LGV for ABN AMRO

Ian Taylor, who joined ABN AMRO UK Private Equity as chief executive last autumn, has recruited two former colleagues from Legal & General Ventures as part of his mission to strengthen ABN AMRO’s presence in the UK larger buyouts market. ABN AMRO UK Private Equity currently manages funds totalling some 630 million.

Paul Southwell and Simon Tuttle, who join ABN AMRO UK Private Equity as directors, both have long experience of the buyout market. Southwell, during his ten years with Legal & General Ventures, worked on deals including McBride, CPL Industries, Unipoly and Bluecrest Seafood/Youngs Seafood.

Tuttle, after seven years with NatWest Acquisition Finance, moved to Legal & General Ventures, where his transactions included the Gala Bingo Clubs buy-in.

ABN AMRO states that the new appointments confirm [its] intention to build a presence in the leveraged buyout market for transactions up to GBP500 million’ and says that further appointments will be announced shortly.

Peter Clarke has joined Murray Johnstone Private Equity from KPMG’s management consultancy practice. Clarke, who has concentrated on the retail, industrial products and automotive sectors, becomes an investment director at the private equity group’s Birmingham office.

The UK’s National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), a body which is being assiduously courted by both the British Venture Capital Association and individual venture and private equity firms, has appointed a new chairman and vice chairman to its investment committee.

Alan Rubenstein of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter will serve a two-year term as chairman. Rubenstein, having worked at Scottish Widows, BZW Asset Management and Lucas Varity Fund Management, joined Morgan Stanley three years ago to establish the firm’s European Pensions Group, and is also responsible for liaising with Europe on issues related to pensions reform.

Frank Russell’s Ken Ayers assumes the vice-chairmanship of the investment committee. The founding chairman of the investment committee of the Society of Pension Consultants, Ayers has enjoyed a long career in financial services. Senior gilt partner and a deputy senior partner at Laurie, Milbank & Co before its acquisition by Chase Manhattan, Ayers became business manager, gilt-edged, at Chase Manhattan Securities before moving to Frank Russell in 1988. antfactory, the e-business incubator or opervesting’ company, has appointed a chief operating officer from the pharmaceuticals sector. Angelos Papadimitriou was previously general manager of Schering Plough’s Spanish subsidiary and had previously worked at the group’s Italian operation and with Laboratorios Fournier, McKinsey & Co and Marck & Co in management and operational positions.

At antfactory, Papdimitriou will be responsible for day-to-day management at antfactory, which has offices in Amsterdam, Jersey, London, Madrid, Milan, Bombay, Munich and Paris and will open a Stockholm office in the near future.

Reuters, which is pressing ahead with plans for the flotation of its Greenhouse Fund, has appointed Sir David Walker as chairman of the Internet investment vehicle. Sir David Walker, the executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Europe, is a former director of the Bank of England.

The Greenhouse Fund, which has a portfolio of some 50 Internet investments, is expected to float on the London Stock Exchange early this summer.

Protege, the Internet incubator headed in Europe by Larry Levy, has made three senior appointments as it prepares to step up its European activities. Simon Edwards has been made the chief executive of Protege Virtual Management, the division which concentrates on transplanting US Internet ventures into the European marketplace. Protege’s incubator for European Internet start-ups, iCocoon, has appointed Alessandro Hatami as vice president of marketing. Hatami joins from GE Capital, where he worked for six years.

Steven Fobel, a veteran of Baring Brothers, SG Warburg and Salomon Smith Barney, has been appointed corporate finance director at Protege. Global Retail Partners last year invested $20 million for a 35 per cent stake in Protege, which is expected to announce a significant fund raising initiative in the coming weeks.

Friends Ivory & Sime Private Equity has recruited Sarah Pittam to its investment team as it seeks to develop a wider European investment strategy. Pittam, who joins from Boston Consulting Group, will focus primarily on sector consolidation opportunities.

Mark Simon, the co-founder and chief executive of banking software developer Inventure, and Simon Cook of 3i Cambridge have moved to Elderstreet Investments as investment directors.