3i boosts team with heavyweight hire for France

Bruno Deschamps is leaving US buyout firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to lead 3i’s French team, underlining the FTSE100 company’s international ambition.

3i, the FTSE100 private equity and venture capital company has enticed Bruno Deschamps away from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice to join as partner and managing director of 3i France.

Deschamps is taking over from Guy Zarzavatdjian, who was promoted to run 3i’s growth capital business last autumn.

At Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Deschamps was from 2002 an operating partner and most recently served as chairman of food distribution business Brake Bros.  He was also involved in other private equity investments in Europe including Rexel, WVR and Culligan.

Before CD&R, Deschamps led a family-owned specialty chemicals company S.A.I.M in France, before joining the Henkel Group, a German detergents and cosmetics manufacturer.

Deschamps said three elements to 3i’s offering attracted him: its international partnership, with expansion planned in the US and Asia; the unique spread of venture, growth capital, infrastructure, listed equity and buyouts; and the opportunity to focus more on his home country of France.

Finding exclusive deals was more difficult in Europe if you just had a buyout to offer, he said. Entrepreneurs appreciate choices.

He said: “I am an entrepreneur by background. I like dealing with businesses, investing in businesses and growing them. Sometimes to buy it all in a big deal LBO is not the best solution.”

As head of 3i France he would not say how much capital 3i was intending to commit to the country. He said: “It will either be too much or not enough, depending on the timing. It is too early to tell. There is plenty of capital available.”

3i France office was opened in 1984 and employs a total of 50 staff including 23 investment executives.

Deschamps’ role as a partner as well as country head will also mean his experience is put to work at 3i Group level. He said: “Phil [Yea] has a view on how make best use of resources and I am happy to help.”