Blackwood’s client is one of the top pan-European private equity funds operating across Northern Europe. The firm has offices in a number of countries but had started to focus on Eastern Europe as an interesting place to find new deals with a particular focus on Poland.
Blackwood worked closely with the CEO and Head of the London office to map the Polish market and to assess what the other private equity funds had managed to achieve in the country. It is a relatively defined market with some strong local players and some majors having established offices in the region recently. A key requirement was to identify and attract someone who had a proven track record of doing deals in the region. The person needed to be able to originate as well as execute deals with limited supervision or support. They also needed to fit in culturally and be prepared to be based in London for a period of time before the decision was taken to open a local office. The process was to be managed as confidentially as possible given the gossipy nature of the market.
It was a search that looked at Polish investors across the globe, prompted by the need to find someone who had strong deal experience; there were a large number of candidates at the right level of seniority without much of a track record. It was a market that had also seen a reasonable amount of recent movement and there was also some scepticism around the appetite of the European funds to really focus on the area; some notable funds had opened and closed offices relatively quickly. It was also noted, as is the case with many senior private equity searches, that many candidates with such desired experience would likely be tied in to a current fund. We therefore also looked at senior management consultants and investment bankers. The client had been looking at the market from London for a year before this search started but wanted to really understand more about the breadth of the landscape and competition.
Blackwood appointed a mid level investor from a local fund who had very high quality deal experience. He was slightly more junior than the original brief but was an outstanding candidate. The research was completed over the summer, the successful candidate was agreed in October and Blackwood managed the candidate’s resignation post year end bonus. On resignation, the candidate received a very lucrative counter offer from his employer and Blackwood worked closely with the client to articulate the opportunity as more exciting and challenging. This candidate opened the Polish office 18 months after he joined and Blackwood have recruited three more team members for him from a variety of backgrounds. Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.