3i hires GE senior executive as North American head

Bob Stefanowski, a 14-year General Electric veteran who most recently headed the firm’s European corporate finance division, will lead 3i’s push into North American growth and infrastructure investments.

3i has hired Bob Stefanowski to lead its growth capital and infrastructure investment efforts in North America, giving him the newly created role of managing partner and chairman for 3i North America effective 15 September.

Bob Stefanowski

Stefanowski has spent the last 14 years at General Electric, most recently as the chief executive of its European corporate finance division, where his responsibilities included overseeing the division’s M&A, structured finance and capital markets activities.

He cited the UK-based private equity firm's cultural similarity to GE, “sterling” reputation and global reach as reasons why he decided to join 3i.

“I think the biggest advantage we have is our global presence – particularly in the middle market. You don't see a lot of middle market private equity firms that have the span in geography that we have or the industry expertise that we have,” Stefanowski said.

“If we're looking at a company in the US that's a heavy manufacturing company and they want to think about outsourcing something to Asia, I can pick up the phone and call the woman who runs our Beijing office or our Hong Kong office,” he added.  

Stefanowski described North America as an important market for 3i in which, as a global investor, the firm needs to have a strong presence.

3i expanded its growth capital team to the US in 2007 with the opening of a New York office, having previously opened venture capital-focused locations in Silicon Valley and Boston in 1999.

It closed its Boston office last year, in line with a shift away from early-stage investing that has also seen it sell some of its venture portfolios to secondary firms like UK-based Shackleton Ventures.

In the US, the firm recently told PEO it plans to aggressively build out its healthcare investment team, and will also focus efforts on infrastructure, having last year raised £700 million for a publicly traded infrastructure fund with a focus on North America, Europe and Asia.

“We think that the macro trends in the US are certainly going to be more towards public-private partnerships,” Stefanowski said.

Stefanowski will join 3i's management committee, along with newly appointed managing partner of group markets, Bruno Deschamps. Deschamps will retain his current responsibilities for 3i France, but will now assume specific responsibilities for 3i's Continental European network and certain group functions.

Cezary Podkul contributed to this report.