Frontline – August 2008

Gatehouse Bank, the Shariah-compliant wholesale investment bank based in London, has announced the appointment of Mourad Mekhail as managing director of institutional wealth management.

Shariah-compliant investment bank names new MD
Gatehouse Bank, the Shariah-compliant wholesale investment bank based in London, has announced the appointment of Mourad Mekhail as managing director of institutional wealth management. Mekhail will head the placement team for institutional wealth management products, which includes structured instruments and fund products, catering primarily to a client base of Islamic institutional investors and sophisticated quasi-institutional (private office) investors. He will report directly to Ewa Gracey, Gatehouse’s head of distribution. Mekhail joins Gatehouse from Merrill Lynch Bank Suisse, having worked with high net worth individuals and small to medium size institutions, while working closely with the bank’s global investment banking division as financial advisor, in the wealth management division. He has worked with a variety of clients in the GCC region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). With an investment banking career spanning more than ten years in the Middle East, North Africa and GCC regions, Mekhail was also previously director of wealth management at UBS AG, in the Cairo office. His institutional wealth management team will focus initially on two key business areas: long-only, asset-based funds (including real estate and private equity) and structured products, including index-linked products.

State Street creates Alternative Investment Solutions unit
State Street Corporation has combined its hedge fund, private equity and alternative risk offerings into one unit: State Street Alternative Investment Solutions. The unit will provide a complete set of fund accounting, fund administration, and risk services to hedge funds and private equity clients. “The alternative investments market is estimated at $4.2 trillion in global assets under management with a 16 percent compound annual growth rate,” said Jack Klinck, executive vice president and global head of State Street’s Alternative Investment Solutions team. “Combining our expertise in the hedge fund, risk and private equity servicing business under one name and unit provides our clients with dedicated solutions for these complex and rapidly growing market segments.” State Street acquired hedge fund administrator International Fund Services (IFS) in 2002, and Palmeri Fund Administrators, a private equity fund administrator, in 2007. In addition, State Street’s acquisition of Investors Financial Services Corp. (IFIN) in 2007 further added to the company’s alternative capabilities in the hedge fund and private equity arena. Today State Street provides alternative investment solutions for more than $550 billion in assets under administration.

Headhunter launches Asia offices
Principal Search Limited, the London-based financial services headhunter, has announced the opening of offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. The new offices will be led by one executive, Rebecca Lea, appointed as the firm’s partner and managing director for Asia. The firm has also hired a team of 10 professionals, including four consultants together with associates, researchers and support staff, all of whom have worked together for many years at another Asian search firm. They will form the core of Principal’s offering to the banking and financial services markets in the region, building on their existing client relationships. In the company’s statement announcing the offices, the firm touts specific expertise in global markets, asset and private wealth management, investment banking, M&A and corporate finance, hedge funds, private equity and alternative funds. Specialist staff from other global locations of Principal Search is expected to relocate to the new offices to enhance the product expertise there. “Our decision [to join the headhunter] was firmly based on Principal Search’s ability, through its high level relationships and market presence in the key US, European and Middle Eastern markets, to help our Asia Pacific clients source talented senior candidates in all the significant global financial locations,” Lea said in a statement announcing the new offices.

Landsbanki relocates regional exec to London
Landsbanki Commercial Finance (LCF), the London-based asset based lender and leveraged finance provider, has announced the relocation of Neil Kindness as business development director to its London office to further strengthen the London business development team. Kindness joined Landsbanki in 2005, where his mandate was to set up its Midland office located in Birmingham. Since then, his team has contributed to Landsbanki’s regional expertise, facilitating cross border transactions, for which Landsbanki is recognized in the commercial finance arena, according to a company statement announcing the move. Prior to joining the lender, Kindess served in roles at GE Business Finance and GMAC, during his 25 years in the asset based lending and receivables market. Rob Gilmore will now head up the Birmingham office and has been appointed regional director, Midlands. In addition to Kindess joining the London-based team, David Jenkin has joined Landsbanki Commercial Finance as an auditor and new business surveyor. Prior to joining Landsbanki, David worked at PwC for five years in roles across its assurance, insolvency and corporate restructuring departments.

Grant Thornton names new Boston chief
Grant Thornton, the US member firm of Grant Thornton International, has announced that Paul Beecy was promoted to partner-in-charge of the tax division of the transaction advisory services practice in the firm’s Boston office. The Grant Thornton Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) team consists of professionals who provide services to strategic buyers, private equity groups, venture capitalists, and investment and commercial banks in the M&A arena. Beecy is a CPA and his experience includes providing US corporate tax advice on financial services matters and on cross-border mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and other corporate tax issues to a wide variety of US and non-US clients. Grant Thorton also announced the hiring of Fred Astrauskas as executive director of TAS in Boston. Astrauskas is also a CPA with over 13 years of accounting and finance experience. For the past 10 years, he has specialized in financial due diligence. During this time, Astrauskas has led hundreds of transactions in the manufacturing, distribution, retail and consumer products and technology industries, as well as with sell side and carve-out transactions.

Diligence firm taps rugby star for team building
The Quinn Partnership, a UK due diligence specialist dedicated to the private equity industry, has announced a partnership with former international rugby player, David Sole. According to a company statement, Sole will provide leadership and team building services with a focus on invested portfolio successes. With previous experience working for a high profile leadership consultancy firm, Sole specializes in executive coaching, team development and board facilitation. Sole also designs and facilitates seminars for boards and teams that focus on key issues such as organizational strategy and delivering more tailored team building exercises. Prior to his corporate experience, Sole played international rugby for Scotland from 1986 to 1992 and was captain a record 25 times, including the famous victory over England in 1990 to win Scotland’s third Grand Slam.

McFadden moves to Lockton
Global insurance broker Lockton Companies has hired Mike McFadden as executive vice president for its New York operations. McFadden was previously a managing director and North American sales leader in the private equity and mergers practice of competitor Marsh. He has more than 20 years experience in property and casualty, employee benefits and private equity insurance arenas. At Lockton, McFadden will expand the firm’s expertise in providing transaction-related insurance products and employee benefit due diligence for acquisition-minded clients, Lockton said in a statement. McFadden will also have a lead role in expanding the firm’s presence in the Philadelphia area. “Michael McFadden brings a wealth of experience and deep relationships in the private equity community. He is outstanding at structuring solutions to mitigate the exposures inherent with mergers and acquisitions and developing portfolio programs to maximize investment returns. We are excited to have him as part of the Lockton team,” says Timothy Ryan, chief operating officer of Lockton’s New York operations.

CP Eaton hires cheif of many roles
Global placement agent CP Eaton has hired Jerry Elliott to assume the combined duties of chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and chief legal officer. In addition, he will take on some of the responsibilities previously handled by chief executive Charles Eaton and Charles Bartz, who heads the firm’s new business and due diligence activities. “In an effort to strategically institutionalize key positions and manage the increasing number of fund assignments, Elliott will coordinate the firm’s four offices and associated activities to ensure that the firm operates with maximum efficiency,” CP Eaton said in a statement. Prior to joining CP Eaton Partners, Elliott was the COO and CFO of Cengage Learning (formerly Thomson Learning). In addition, Elliott served as CEO and president of Global Signal until its sale to Crown Castle for $5.7 billion. He also has experience as a senior banker at Morgan Stanley and prior to that he was a partner at Shearman & Sterling.

Ernst & Young hires restructuring partner
Ernst & Young has hired Lee Watson as a partner in its European restructuring group. Watson, who spent the past 12 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, will be primarily focused on advising lenders across a range of UK and European restructuring situations, including syndicated and complex exposures. Alan Bloom, global head of restructuring said in a statement: “I am delighted that Lee has joined our restructuring team. His appointment shows our continued dedication to increasing our European presence in restructuring. He is a proven restructuring advisor who has worked on many high profile complex restructurings and brings with him a good market network. I have no doubt he will make a difference to our practice, which continues to grow from strength to strength.”

Houlihan Lokey adds PE coverage officer
Investment bank Houlihan Lokey has hired Florus Plantenga as a director in its London office. Plantenga will be responsible for leading the firm’s European private equity coverage. Prior to joining Houlihan Lokey, Plantenga spent five years with Société Générale corporate and investment banking in London and Paris. While at the firm he was a director of Egret Management, the leveraged loan CLO manager. Prior to that, he was a director of financial sponsor coverage for the firm. Throughout his investment banking career, Plantenga has also worked for Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan and Kleinwort Benson. “We are seeing a tremendous amount of activity in Europe with financial sponsor coverage,” said John Mavredakis, senior managing director and head of the financial sponsors coverage group. “Florus has vast knowledge of the market and, as our dedicated officer in Europe, will be an integral component to our expansion in the region.”