Solomon to Head Granville Private Equity Funds

Granville Private Equity Funds (GPEF) has announced that Gary H. Solomon is joining as CEO. A partner with leading US gatekeeper Abbot Capital Management for the last 12 years, Gary Solomon has over 16 years of private equity experience.

Guy Eastman, who under chairman Mike Proudlock previously headed GPEF, will work alongside Gary Solomon as managing director of the European side of the business, based in London.

Gary Solomon will be located in New York, at a new base for Granville’s US operations, due to open on 1 May (see page 33). As well as marketing new GPEF products to US investors and maintaining existing relationships, Gary Solomon will be working to build relationships with management groups new to Granville.

GPEF currently advises some $500 million (ecu 455 million) of capital, invested in more than 200 private equity funds managed by over 120 management groups worldwide. Approximately 30% of its fund portfolio is in North America, 45% in Europe and the balance in the Asia Pacific region.

GPEF’s experience of the European private equity funds market, stretching back to 1982, is virtually unrivalled.

More recently, the group has sought to strengthen its US presence, last year appointing William S. (Bill) Field, Prudential Equity Investors co-founder and former CEO, to act as its US representative. Going forward, Bill Field will work closely with Gary Solomon as GPEF seeks to bring new institutional clients on board.

Opening a US office was an option GPEF had been considering for some time before the group entered into negotiations with Hamilton Lane (EVCJ February/March 1998, page 16).

Guy Eastman described changing GPEF’s centre of gravity away from London to New York as a logical move, in view of the fact that both the bulk of fund proposals and the majority of capital flowing into private equity originate in North America.

“The opening of the New York office will enable GPEF to do a better job with US fund investments”, Guy Eastman said. Gary Solomon commented: “Though Granville has built an excellent track record in this area, it is always more of a challenge to invest in US funds from a base in the UK”. He added “the importance of a local base is even greater now, when so many funds have become invitation-only affairs”.

Later this year, GPEF intends to launch a Europe-oriented fund-of-funds, targeting $100 million to $150 million, that will be marketed to European and US institutions, and possibly to US private investors.

Its strategy will be to invest in a cross-section of around ten to 15 funds from top European management groups, taking positions of up to 10% in investee vehicles. Gary Solomon said provisions will be made to enable the fund-of-funds to invest in Central, and possibly even Eastern, European vehicles, though its principal focus would be on developed private equity markets.

All the indications are that Granville is also drawing up plans for US-focused fund-of-funds product. However, according to Gary Solomon, “That is still a bit down the line: we’ll do things one at a time”.

The GPEF team, which currently comprises Gary Solomon, Guy Eastman, Ian Worden and analyst Jamille Jinnah, is due to expand shortly following the recruitment of another senior-level analyst and a research assistant, both of whom will be based at the New York office.