EQT rebuilds in Finland

The Nordic buyout firm is overhauling its senior deal team in Finland, where it has not made an investment since 2005.

EQT, the Nordic alternative asset manager, is assembling a new senior deal team in its Helsinki office, as it looks to accelerate its investment activity in the Finnish market.

The firm, which has not made an investment in Finland since 2005, is bringing in a new senior partner to head up the Helsinki office, with present incumbent Petri Myllyneva – who joined the firm in September 2005 – moving to a new role, according to an investor.

It has also parted company with three of its senior investment professionals. Partner Juha Lindfors and directors Panu Halonen and Antti-Pekka Kääriäinen have all left the Finnish office, the source said. The news was circulated to the rest of the firm last week, although no details were revealed about their future plans.

The departures mean the firm is left with just three associate-level professionals in Helsinki. Udo Philipp, a senior partner in the firm’s high-performing German office, will be brought in to run the team on an interim basis while a permanent replacement is sought.

The move is designed as a proactive step to renew EQT’s Finnish operation, and help the Helsinki office replicate the firm’s strong performance elsewhere in Europe. “The other offices in the network are moving forward exponentially, and the Finnish office has not been keeping pace,” an investor said. “The firm wants to bring the same level of dynamism as it has elsewhere.”

The Swedish firm has been investing in Finland throughout its history, even launching a €138 million fund dedicated to the country in 1999. Its first buyout came with the acquisition of telecoms supplier Perlos in 1996, and it has since made a total of eight investments in the country. However, it has not done a deal there since December 2005, when it provided expansion capital to PaloDEx, and it has not completed a buyout since the acquisition of Sanitec, from EQT IV, in April of that year.

All three of the departing deal professionals have enjoyed long service with the firm. Lindfors joined in 1998, after previously working as a management consultant with Strategic Analysis & Management and in investor relations for the Cultor Group. He represented the buyout firm on the boards of Sanitec, VTI Technologies and Swedish group Duni. Halonen, who joined from buyout firm Fenno Management in 1999, was a deputy director of Salcomp, while Kääriäinen, who was recruited from consultancy Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in 2001, sat on the board of Finn-Power.

Since its inception EQT has developed from a regional buyout firm into a multi-product alternative asset manager. In recent years it has supplemented its European buyout operation with a China-focused team, a special situations group, and an expansion capital arm. Last week PEO revealed that the group was also planning to launch a €1 billion infrastructure fund.

EQT declined to comment.