Former Paine Schwartz director goes to Terra Firma

David Browne joins among a number of high-profile hires as the firm prepares to raise its first buyout fund in a decade.

Terra Firma Capital Partners has recruited the deputy chief financial officer of Standard Chartered Bank to be its first group chief financial officer.

Vivek Ahuja, who will start at the end of January, will be at partner level, slotting in beneath managing partners Guy Hands, Justin King and Andrew Géczy. The newly created role will see Ahuja split his time between the firm itself and its portfolio in what chief executive officer Andrew Géczy described as a “modern broad-based CFO role”. The hire will give the firm “an active CFO linked to the CFOs in the portfolio companies”.
Ahuja spent 17 years with Standard Chartered and previously held finance and operations roles at ANZ Grindlays Bank an HSBC.

Terra Firma has spent the last three years overhauling its senior line-up in a process that has seen a significant number of executives arriving and leaving at the firm. At the top of the firm, founder and chairman Guy Hands brought in Justin King, the former Sainsbury’s chief, as vice-chairman and head of portfolio businesses with a new CEO in Géczy, former chief of international and institutional banking at ANZ. Going in the other direction have been managing director Peter Miholich, former head of Nordic investments Jyrki Lee-Korhonen and managing director Michele Russo.

Terra Firma has also recruited former Lloyds Banking Group managing director Mark Elliot as managing director and David Browne, previously a director at agri-investment firm Paine Schwartz Partners.

Elliot will lead Terra Firma’s “Support Capital” unit, which specializes in providing finance to private equity-owned business that do not have the financial headroom to finance their growth plans for further operational improvement. It signed its first deal – a €40 million loan to an Equistone portfolio company – in May last year.

Browne will join as a director in the private equity team.

Terra Firma is currently in discussions with investors regarding raising its first commingled buyout fund since 2006 and is understood to be targeting up to €3 billion.