Russell to face 'year of pressure, change' at EVCA

As political scrutiny of private equity intensifies in Europe, EVCA has appointed Jonathan Russell, buyout chief of FTSE 100-listed 3i, to its chair this year. The executive is accustomed to the glare of the public spotlight.

Jonathan Russell, managing partner of buyouts at FTSE 100-listed private equity firm 3i, is taking over from Helmut Schühsler, chairman of TVM Capital as EVCA's chairman for 2008-2009.

Russell's appointment at the European trade association underlines the importance of the mid-market buyout segment across Europe, EVCA said. Of companies funded by private equity in 2007, 85 percent were small- to mid-sized businesses, employing fewer than 500 people.   
Russell, who joined 3i in 1986, has been closely involved with EVCA for many years; from 2000 to 2005, he was chairman of EVCA’s buyout committee and a member of the association’s executive committee. He assumes the chairmanship as pressure builds in Brussels for far-reaching changes to regulation as well as to interest deductibility and capital requirements.

The next 12 months will also see a new Commission and a new Parliament, many of whose members may be unfamiliar with the role played by private equity in growing the value of new companies and in making mature businesses sufficiently efficient to compete globally. 

At a dinner to mark his succession, Russell said private equity needed to come out of the shadows and show it was not the monster politicians and regulators feared.

Russell said in a statement: “This is the year the whole industry across Europe has to pull together as one united body and commit to supporting EVCA’s work in Brussels. We need the engagement of senior investment executives of all firms that invest across Europe and it is my aim to secure that engagement.”

In an interview with PERE's sister website PEO, the outgoing chair Schühsler said: “If you ask me what advice I'd have for the new chairman, I'd say a year is not a long time. Don't lose sight of your objectives.”

Schüsler oversaw the introduction of EVCA's large buyout platform to accompany its work in the mid-market and venture segments. His tenure also witnessed an overhaul of the industry's pan-European data gathering.

Russell has committed to defending the industry's right to self-regulation on corporate governance, reporting, valuation and transparency if it is to avoid having the scope of its operations substantially affected. He said: “This is going to be a year of pressure and of change and I intend to do everything I can, with the EVCA Secretariat, to ensure that that change does not inhibit the continued success of the private equity industry in Europe.”