Keniston-Cooper returns to buyouts at Morgan Stanley

US bank Morgan Stanley has appointed Graham Keniston-Cooper European private equity head, as the buyout firm veteran returns a year after Lazard pulled the plug on his private equity unit.

Former head of Lazard’s European buyout arm, Graham Keniston-Cooper has become head of private equity in Europe at US bank Morgan Stanley. His arrival comes as it gears up to raise a $6 billion pan-global fund, according to a placement agent.

This is the latest high-profile appointment at Morgan Stanley, after the hire of Steve Trevor from Goldman Sachs and the reshuffle of senior investment banker Alan Jones to run its global business jointly. Keniston Cooper will report directly to Trevor and Jones. The bank is mid-way through a dramatic reversal after selling off its private equity business in 2004.

Keniston-Cooper joins the bank after setting up and managing Lazard European Private Equity Partners from 2004 to July 2006. The buyout arm failed to make any deals during Keniston-Cooper’s tenure and he left the bank when the arm folded.

This is despite its being tipped to buy UK book group Waterstone’s from UK music group HMV, in partnership with its founder Tim Waterstone. Lazard committed only €50 million to the mid-market buyout fund and it reportedly pulled the plug on any further funding for the Waterstone’s deal leading to its collapse.

A city source told PEO:  “Lazard thought they wanted to get into private equity but at the same time they were thinking of floating. They are not the biggest bank in the world and they were not willing to contribute significantly to the business while they were preparing for the float.” 

Before joining Lazard, Keniston-Cooper, was a former partner and director at European buyout firm Cinven who led the buyout of Odeon. He worked at the firm for 11 years with a focus on consumer related business.

He was head of business development at UK retailer Kingfisher for six years and senior consultant at consultancy The Boston Consulting Group for five years, before he turned to private equity. He has a first class degree in mathematics from Cambridge University.