Guy Hands dilutes ownership at Terra Firma bringing in new senior partner

Guy Hands, the private equity personality and founder of Terra Firma, has diluted ownership in his firm by taking on a new equity-owning partner.

Vivek Ahuja has joined the firm as chief financial officer (CFO) after 17 years with Standard Chartered, where he was formerly deputy group CFO.

Not only will Ahuja be in charge of Terra Firma's finances, he will also be liaising with finance officers at the firm's portfolio companies – which have over time included names such as Phoenix pub group and music company EMI.

Andrew Geczy, Terra Firma's chief executive, denies that the move to bring in a CFO was a direct response to recent problems in its struggling portfolio company Four Seasons Health Care. Terra Firma was at loggerheads with the care home group's main creditor, hedge fund H/2 Capital Partners, for weeks as the two parties seemed unable to agree on a deal to save the business.

Read more: Struggling care home group Four Seasons gets breathing space as it finally agrees a payment standstill with hedge fund creditor H/2

"Vivek is not a reaction to anything in Four Seasons per se. This is about building for the future, finding someone who has the depth of expertise and shares our values and has the energy to drive Terra Firma forward," he said. "We see an opportunity to grow the business."

Geczy also denied that the appointment was anything to do with succession planning, as Guy Hands – who has always remained the firm's key figure – approaches 60 years old.

"Guy is just as involved as he's always been. It's more about Guy realising the vision that he created for Terra Firma with a number of his loyal investors," Geczy said.

"If I go back in time to before my arrival, around three years ago, Guy sat down with a number of important investors and asked them for advice on taking Terra Firma to the next stage. As a part of that advice, he heard that he needed to bring in some senior people to be his partners to help him drive Terra Firma."

Read more: Terra Firma boss Guy Hands on buying Agent Provocateur, dyslexia and moving on from multi-million EMI loss

Sources have told City A.M. that Terra Firma is raising a new fund, though all the Terra Firma partners refused to comment on this. But the appointment of a new partner this time was not a demand from investors, Geczy said, but rather an initiative led by him – "I felt that we needed a group CFO who could manage the normal part of finances, but also look into the portfolio companies".

Ahuja has worked across the globe, holding senior positions at Standard Chartered in the Middle East and South Asia. He has also built his career in HSBC and Australia's ANZ Bank, and said he was looking forward to working with Terra Firma "as it continues to invest and build for the future".

In with the new

The private equity firm also announced today that it had appointed Mark Elliott as a managing director and David Browne as a director, although neither of these will hold equity in the firm.

Elliott joins from Lloyds Banking Group and will also oversee Terra Firma's support capital division, which launched last year to give short-term financing to businesses which are already backed by another firm.

Browne began his career in banking at Credit Suisse and has spent nearly 15 years in private equity – most recently as a director of Paine Schwartz Partners, a specialist fund based in New York.

Read more: Guy Hands’s private equity firm resumes dividend

Full story: Guy Hands dilutes ownership at Terra Firma bringing in new senior partner: City A.M.

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