Terra Firma dealmaker departs after 20 years


Financial managing director Julie Williamson has decided to leave, according to a spokeswoman, having been involved in a number of Terra Firma’s most high-profile deals over the years.

Williamson led the team advising on the firm’s €1 billion investment in German motorway service station chain Tank & Rast in 2004. Terra Firma sold the company for €3.9 billion in September 2015, generating a 7.5x return.

She was also involved in one of the firm’s less successful investments, having sat on the board of music publisher EMI Group. Terra Firma acquired EMI in a multibillion-pound deal in 2007 and then lost its £1.75 billion investment when the company was seized by lender Citigroup in 2011.

Williamson focused on investments in the hospitality and leisure sectors and also sat on the boards of European cinema groups Odeon and UCl and Wyevale Garden Centres.

Prior to joining Terra Firma, she worked at the Japanese bank Nomura. Terra Firma as it exists today was founded in 2002 via the spin-out of the Nomura Principal Finance Group from the bank. The Nomura Principal Finance Group was launched in 1994 by the investor Guy Hands, Terra Firma’s current chairman.

The Terra Firma spokeswoman said: “Julie led and contributed to some of Terra Firma’s most successful investments. After 20 years with our firm, she has decided it is the right time to take a break. We are disappointed to be losing such a loyal and talented colleague, but understand her desire to do something different and wish her well.”

The past 12 months have seen a number of high-profile appointments and departures at Terra Firma, which has been unable to raise a traditional buyout fund since 2007. Its former chief executive Tim Pryce stepped down in March 2016 and was replaced by ex-Citigroup banker Andrew Géczy in July.

Terra Firma also appointed Justin King, the former chief executive of supermarket chain Sainsbury’s in September 2015, while managing director Steven Webber, who had been at the firm 20 years, stepped down in March 2016.

But it has also hired people to pursue new strategies in areas including secondaries and private debt. In April, Michele Russo joined to focus on secondary opportunities.

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