One of KKR’s top dealmakers in Europe, who led the private equity firm’s investments in companies including Travelopia and French fashion group SMCP, has left the buyout group after 14 years. 

Edouard Pillot, who rose through KKR’s ranks to become European head of industrials, confirmed to the FT that he had left the company but declined to comment further. 

A KKR spokesman said Mr Pillot, who left last week, would be replaced by Frankfurt-based Christian Ollig, who will remain in charge of the firm’s German operations in addition to the new role.

The New York-headquartered group has emerged as one of the most active private equity firms since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, striking deals ranging from investing in Coty’s professional beauty division to taking a stake in Telecom Italia’s last-mile network for €1.8bn.

Two people familiar with Mr Pillot’s thinking said he was considering setting up his own European private equity fund, even as the uncertainty created by the global health crisis makes raising new first-time funds more challenging.

Several other dealmakers who have left KKR in recent years have started their own investment funds. 

Mr Pillot joined KKR in 2006 after stints at JPMorgan and CIBC World Markets and was promoted to become a partner in 2018. That year, he replaced Jonathan Smidt as head of the European industrials group when Mr Smidt left KKR after almost two decades.

Mr Ollig, his replacement, oversees the management of Hensoldt, previously Airbus’s German defence electronics arm, which KKR bought for €1.1bn in 2016.

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The group, which has about $207bn in assets under management, raised a €5.8bn European buyout fund — its biggest ever — in November. It named Mattia Caprioli and Philipp Freise as its co-heads of European private equity in October. KKR has about 50 dealmakers in its European private equity operation.

Some of the companies in which Mr Pillot oversaw investments, such as UK-based luxury travel group Travelopia, where he was a board member, are particularly exposed to the downturn caused by the pandemic.

Via Financial Times