Pritpal Aujla joins restaurant investor Roark Capital as CFO; EIG Global Energy searches for his replacement

Pritpal Aujla, CFO of Roark Capital

Pritpal Aujla has joined Roark Capital Group as chief financial officer after more than 12 years working at EIG Global Energy Partners, most recently as CFO.

Aujla joins the firm at a fraught time. The firm has made a series of bets on restaurant, retail healthcare and health, wellness and beauty businesses that serve customers through retail outlets. Many such outlets have been closed to customer traffic for several weeks to help tamp down the Covid-19 pandemic. The firm also invests in consumer and business services.

Aujla (pictured) did not respond to requests for comment for this article. An executive at EIG Global Energy Partners said that the firm has retained an executive search firm to find candidates to replace Aujla. The executive did not respond to a request for additional details.

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JSPI Capital sets out to acquire lower-mid-market companies; may expand payroll

JSPI Capital Partners has set out to acquire companies in the lower middle market, bringing expertise in turning around troubled companies that should serve it well in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ira J. Perlmuter, founder and managing director, said that the firm, founded in January, plans to invest $1 million to $7 million to acquire “great companies,” some of which will have have run into temporary trouble. “You can get great bang for the buck in that end of the market and really help these companies,” said Perlmuter (pictured). The firm plans to be industry-agnostic.’

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Matt Gullen re-joins H.I.G. Capital as managing director in Miami office after stint at Comvest Partners

Matt Gullen

The global pandemic has largely shut down senior hiring.

But H.I.G. Capital found a way around the impracticality of holding in-person interviews, giving office tours, and wooing candidates and their spouses with fancy dinners. It hired someone it already knew–Matt Gullen, who spent more than nine years at the firm from 2007 to 2016 before leaving as a principal to become a partner at Comvest Partners.

As a new managing director in the Miami office, Gullen takes responsibility for finding and executing on both platform and add-on acquisitions in business services, chemicals, telecommunications and manufacturing. Before leaving H.I.G. Capital in 2016 Gullen had served on the boards of several H.I.G. Capital portfolio companies. They include Cornerstone Chemical Company, Lexmark Carpet Mills and Valtris Specialty Chemicals.

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Limited partners stay in the hunt; distressed debt/special-situations funds materialize 

Perhaps remembering bitter lessons from past downturns, institutional investors seem determined not to pull back on their private equity programs.

An early April survey of just over 100 limited partners by placement agent Eaton Partners found nearly two thirds (64 percent) making no changes to their “private market allocations” in the face of Covid-19. Another 15 percent said they are increasing their allocations, while 21 percent said they are cutting their allocations.

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ICG adds three senior members to North American PE team; opens search for analyst/associate

Intermediate Capital Group, the London-based asset manager with $46 billion in AUM, this week announced three senior additions to its start-up mid-market private equity team based in New York City. It also launched a search for an analyst/associate to provide them with junior-level support.

Climbing aboard the team led by Senior Managing Director Alan “AJ” Jones are senior members Uzair Dossani, Evan Eason and Kevin Gregory. Dossani most recently was a partner at Harvest Partners, where he specialized in backing chemical, industrial, logistics and packaging companies.

Eason was a partner at Olympus Partners specializing in business services, financial services, consumer, and industrial companies. Gregory most recently led the healthcare practice at Aquiline Capital Partners, while also covering financial services and business services for the firm.

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Philip Lo joins GPI Capital to head IR, biz dev; hints at hiring plans

Philip Lo

Philip Lo this month joined minority-stake and growth equity investor GPI Capital as managing director-investor relations and business development. In an interview with PECN this week Lo said he sees fundraising in the firm’s future, as well as an opportunity for hiring.

Lo most recently served as managing director of investor relations at fast-growing tech specialist Siris Capital, which last year closed a fourth fund at $3.45 billion. Lo was a founding member of the investment team, joining them at hedge fund manager SAC Capitalin 2007, four years before they spun out to form Siris Capital.

Siris Capital quickly became a fundraising force, adding some $6 billion in committed capital to its war chest as well as offering equity co-investments to consummate larger transactions. About five to six years ago, Lo switched from the investment team to investor relations in part to take charge of the co-investment syndication process.

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Executive recruiters anticipate adding to their payrolls 

For those not yet convinced that the private-equity recruitment market is on fire consider the bullish hiring plans of the executive recruitment firms themselves.

Nearly two-thirds of those responding to a survey conducted over the last few weeks by Private Equity Career News said that they anticipated adding one or more people to their private equity practices this year. Just 38 percent said they planned to hold steady. None said they anticipated cutbacks.

The reason is simple: an influx of work. Nearly half (49 percent) said they anticipated handling 10 to 25 percent more private-equity related assignments this year than in 2019. Nearly a third (31 percent) said they anticipated handling up to 10 percent more. Seventeen percent anticipated handling more than 25 percent more. Just one respondent anticipated handling fewer private equity-related assignments this year.

All told 37 executives responded to these and other market-trend questions in my survey. Look for the full results to be published later this year in the executive summary of our forthcoming Guide to PE Executive Recruiters.

José Miguel Guzmán has seen PE from both sides now

In his early career José Miguel Guzmán has worked in positions at one of the largest PE shops in the world, and one of the largest pensions–putting him in a unique position to compare and contrast the experiences.

From 2013 to 2016 Guzmán served as an associate at New York, New York-based Cerberus Capital Management. Then, from 2016 through earlier this year, he served as a private equity investment officer for the New York City Employees’ Retirement System. I caught up with Guzmán this week to get his insights into the advantages and disadvantages of working for GPs and LPs. Below is a record of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

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Private equity makes headway hiring more women; but much work remains, especially at senior levels

Women make up about one in five employees at private equity firms around the world–far from parity but still an improvement over two years ago when data providerPreqin last studied the question. At senior levels, women make up barely more than one in 10.

According to a fact sheet released in advance of its full report, Women in Alternative Assets 2020, Preqin found that in the two years since its 2017 study, the percentage of women in private equity has grown to 19.4 percent, up from 17.9 percent–see chart above.

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In game of risk, it’s always the board’s move

Jay Heilbrunn, president of The Distributor Board Inc and a director on the boards of private companies and organizations over the years, recalls a board meeting at a company whose biggest customer represented a substantial slice of its business.

“What’s the plan for taking $2 million out of expenses next week?” Heilbrunn recalled asking the managers. “They kind of looked at me like this is really a strange question.” Heilbrunn said he persisted: “Well, when this customer leaves, we’re going to have to jettison $2 million of expenses, and where’s it going to come from?”

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