Justin King joined Terra Firma Capital Partners as vice chairman and head of portfolio businesses, said Guy Hands, chief investment officer and chairman.
Mr. Hands said in a telephone interview he had focused on the deals and portfolio businesses for Terra Firma. Mr. King takes over responsibility for the portfolio businesses. Mr. Hands said he will focus more on the deal side.
Mr. King will work on deal origination and management. “(We have) somebody who can talk to the seller directly as an operator,” said Mr. Hands, of Mr. King. “In a market that is very competitive, if you can distinguish yourself, we think that has real value.”
Mr. Hands said he and Tim Pryce, CEO of Terra Firma, approached recruiters about 12 months ago about adding an equity partner. “Terra Firma has been seen in the market as being 100% ‘Guy.’ We have had great people working (here), but not had people necessarily with the strength and size of personality as” Mr. King.
Mr. Hands added that Mr. King will be an equity partner of the firm, and there are plans to add more partners in the future. “The aim is (to have) some internally also become equity partners, and probably make some external hires too.”
“We want to build the firm over the next few years. (We would) both like there to be a real group of very successful, complementary, skilled people, in that equity position and in that leadership team. A lot of people only focus on those at the point when they are thinking of succession … I’m trying to do it at the right time, rather than when (I am) about to retire,” said Mr. Hands.
Mr. King previously was CEO of Sainsbury’s. “This presents an opportunity for me,” said Mr. King, in the same telephone interview. “What struck me most about Terra Firma was the people, the sense of values … the approach toward transforming companies. Of course, private equity has to be about efficient financial structures,” but Mr. King said Terra Firma shares his view on the importance of “operational transformation.”