Morgan Stanley strengthens for Europe buyout push

Five years after spinning off its private equity business, Morgan Stanley has made another senior appointment as it prepares to launch a $6 billion global buyout fund.

Morgan Stanley has stepped up its move back into private equity by moving one of its most senior bankers to co-head its European buyout arm, shrugging off concerns about the current state of the market.

Brian Magnus, previously the bank’s head of UK investment banking, has been appointed as co-head of the bank’s European private equity business, alongside Graham Keniston-Cooper. The pair will work together to build a European team based in London.

Magnus joined Morgan Stanley’s mergers and acquisitions team in 2000 from Schroders, and has worked mainly on UK deals. In his most high-profile transaction, he advised Marks & Spencer when it rejected a takeover bid from retail entrepreneur Philip Green, while more recently he advised Whitbread on its disposal of gym business David Lloyd Leisure. He has been head of UK investment banking since 2005.

His co-head Keniston-Cooper, who only joined the bank last month, was previously head of Lazard’s European buyout arm between 2004 and 2006, although the division failed to make any deals during his tenure. He is a former partner at European buyout firm Cinven.

Morgan Stanley Private Equity is currently gearing up to raise a $6 billion pan-global buyout fund, according to a placement agent. Magnus and Keniston-Cooper will report to global co-heads Steve Trevor and Alan Jones – Trevor was recruited from Goldman Sachs Capital Partners last year, while Jones was promoted internally.

Trevor said: “Brian is one of Morgan Stanley’s most experienced bankers in Europe with deep knowledge of our platform. We believe that his experience will be the perfect complement to Graham’s long track record of private equity investing and will deliver success in our European private equity business.”

Morgan Stanley is returning to the private equity business three years after spinning off its buyout arm as Metalmark Capital in order to avoid conflicts of interest with its private equity clients. However, the success in the buyout arena of some of its main competitors – most notably Trevor’s ex-employer Goldman Sachs – has convinced the bank to return to the market.

The appointment of Magnus comes just days after the bank appointed ex-Credit Suisse banker Peter Bacon as chairman of its European financial sponsor coverage and co-head of global leveraged finance, following a short spell with hedge fund GSO Capital Partners.

Magnus’ old role will be filled by Simon Smith, his former deputy, who will report to international investment banking head Franck Petitgas. The bank has also appointed Mark Warham, who has spent the last two years on secondment to the Takeover Panel, as chairman of UK investment banking.