50 people to transform your business

When you are going for business growth it's often not what you know, but who you know that counts. Growth Business uncovers the most influential people in the growth company market.

When you are going for business growth it’s often not what you know, but who you know that counts. Growth Business uncovers the 50 most influential people in the growth company market.

Note – Numbers in brackets represent last year’s position.

1. Wol Kolade (32)
Ex-engineering aficionado Kolade is managing director of ISIS Equity Partners, which is shortly to change its name to F&C Private Equity following the takeover by F&C. Under Kolade’s lead, ISIS has built an enviable reputation for both its friendliness and its willingness to back regional ventures. Kolade oversees both the private equity business and VCT activities. Having been named Private Equity House of the Year early in 2004, Kolade and his team continued to deliver the goods, completing eight deals in 2004. It usually invests between £2 million and £30 million in companies posting profits in excess of £1 million. 2005 looks to be even more promising – not least because a much-feted VC big gun, ex-3i chief executive Brian Larcombe, has come on board.

2. Anne Glover (25)

Co-founder of Amadeus Capital, alongside Hermann Hauser, and most recently, chairman of the BVCA (since April 2004), the ever-amiable Glover has firmly stamped her mark on the venture capital industry and beyond. She is a firm believer in investors being seen more as partners than adversaries, although she is equally keen to point out that this does not mean diminishing the importance of being tough when necessary. This has garnered her a fair share of admiration within the industry. However, her track record of success is probably more important to her than popularity.

3. David Norwood (-)

These days intellectual heavyweight Norwood, an international chess grand master, is best known as chief executive of AIM counter IP2IPO. The intellectual property venture, which commercialises university IP, listed in late 2003. Norwood, whose job demands he spends two months of the year in India, began his City career as a foreign exchange trader and had spells with both Duncan Lawrie and Williams de Broe. He then went on to form IndexIT, an adviser of young tech ventures that was taken over by Beeson Gregory. Norwood left the Evolution board in 2004.

4. Michael Queen (-)

Three years ago, investment giant 3i’s star was waning, then former Arthur Andersen corporate finance chief Chris Rowlands was recruited to oversee the return to form. Revival achieved, it would have been easy for the group to rest on its laurels. Instead, a raft of high-level management changes have been made to add further impetus. Chief amongst these was the promotion of the multi-talented Queen (ex-3i finance director, BVCA chairman and HM Treasury adviser) to the pivotal role of head of growth capital. Press reports claimed Queen was left ‘fuming’ and ‘looking for alternative employment’ as a result of being passed over for the role of group chief executive. If and when you meet him, you’ll realise nothing was further from the truth.

5. Kevin Comolli (-)

Formerly a partner at pan-European private equity group Doughty Hanson, Harvard graduate Kevin Comolli (who is also a multi-linguist and robotics expert) heads the London office of venture capital business Accel Partners. Its focus is on software, IT and communications and it is backed by the likes of Microsoft. Among the deals completed in the UK were investments in semiconductor start-up Icera, and software group SurfKitchen.

6. Victor Basta (49)

Basta is the co-founder of Arma Partners, which has become one of the largest independent corporate advisers focused exclusively on the technology market. Basta, an adjunct professor at French business school INSEAD and former co-president of rival corporate finance house Broadview, boasts years of tech-related finance and M&A advisory work, and was voted adviser of the year to the European technology industry.

7. Sir David Cooksey (-)

VCTs aside, venture capital firm Advent enjoyed a successful 2004: completing a series of profitable exits, lining up several new investments and raising close to £130 million for its latest fund. It draws its energy from chairman, founder and active investment team member Sir David Cooksey. In his spare time he acts as the Bank of England’s senior non-executive director.

8. Jon Moulton (2)

Specialising in buy-outs, buy-ins and the provision of later- stage development capital, Alchemy partners is steered by founding partner Moulton. The business has invested over £1.25 billion, with 2004 seeing it back two AIM floats – ATH Resources and Civica. More recently, the company was linked to troubled department-store chain Allders, which has just gone into administration. Moulton is one of only three members of the British Venture Capital Hall of Fame, entry admitted to those who have contributed significantly to the private equity industry.

9. Jo Taylor (-)

Alongside Michael Queen, self-confessed ‘slow-burner’ and proud Bolton Wanderers fan Taylor was the other main beneficiary of 3i’s recent restructuring. After 20 years with the group, Taylor has ascended to the role of head of venture capital and will succeed outgoing VC supremo Rod Perry in July when the latter retires. Also chairman of the BVCA’s high technology committee, Taylor is keen to maintain a hands-on investment role, noting that ‘I want to stay active, as that’s what I really enjoy doing.’

10. David Hall (-)

Based in Lancashire, Hall was appointed group managing director of YFM (formerly Yorkshire Fund Managers) in March 2004. He has since been busy overseeing the rapid expansion of the small- and mid-cap- focused private equity group. Though YFM’s individual investments are typically minor in value (the group provides anything between £50,000 and £9 million), few can rival it in terms of sheer deal volume.

11. Graham O’Keeffe, Christopher Spray & Sonali De Ryker (12)

Formed in 1980, Atlas operates on both sides of the Atlantic and has more than billion invested in businesses in technology and life science. Heading things up in the UK are Spray (who founded Atlas’ US division in the 1980s) and O’Keeffe (a graduate of Oxford University and MIT). In De Ryker, Atlas boasts one of the brightest (and most loquacious) stars in the VC community.

12. Martin Halusa (-)

As recently-appointed chief executive of Apax Partners, Austrian-born (and like many on this list, Harvard-educated) Martin Halusa faces the unenviable task of filling the void soon to be left by venture capital legend Ronald Cohen. That said the telecoms specialist (and diplomat’s son) was the universal choice of Apax’s 21 investment partners. Following a modest fundraising last year, Halusa and his team will have more than billion at their disposal.

13. John Dodd (13)

Dodd, easily one of the busiest and brightest men on the investment scene (and there’s a lot of competition), co-founded Artemis Investment Management in 1998 and has witnessed it balloon to over £4.8 billion’s worth of assets under management. Dodd himself manages the UK Smaller Companies Fund, which is the best-performing fund in its class, boasting an 88 per cent
rise in five years and an astounding 444 per cent increase since launch. On a good day he is very welcoming, but there can be bad ones.

14. Jeremy Furniss (5)

2004 was an amazing year for Furniss, a partner at M&A specialist Livingstone Guarantee. The firm completed 22 deals worth £700 million, just under half of which were international transactions. A fan of all things specialist (the phrase ‘get niche or die’ could have been invented for him), Furniss’ deals in the last year ranged from the sale of quarrying operation Woodhall Spa Sand & Gravel to the MBO at John Brown Citrus Publishing.

15. Mark Wignall (-)

Its merger with the private equity team of GLE Capital has dominated the last year at Matrix, a venture that invests between £250,000 and £5 million in both profitable businesses and younger tech-focused ventures. Despite the distractions, the group supported three management buy-outs and oversaw four exits in the final quarter alone.

16. Michael Jackson (7)

Michael Jackson, a columnist for this magazine and a passionate fisherman, is chairman of FTSE 100 accounting software play Sage. He has specialised in raising funds and investing in small companies for the past 20 years. He founded venture capital fund manager Elderstreet in 1990, and chairs four AIM companies.

17. Tim Levett (40)

Tim Levett is investment director at Northern Venture Managers (NVM), the VC outfit with offices in Newcastle, Edinburgh and Reading. An ex-Royal Navy officer, Levett has held line management positions with Shell UK and International Paints, and served as general manager of construction company Tremco. He joined Northern Investors as investment executive in 1985, becoming investment director of NVM in 1988.

18. Bill Brown/Robert Mitchell (29)

These two small to medium-sized-company supporters broke away from ISIS Equity partners to form their own asset management company, but their ties remain. Brown and Mitchell will continue to manage F&C’s Active Capital trust, AIM VCT and AIM VCT2. Their new company is called Blue Hone, which is the granite used to make curling stones – being a sport close to Scotsman Brown’s heart.

19. Howard Leigh (-)

The power behind corporate finance boutique Cavendish, Leigh has been working on an ambitious speed-dating event for acquisition-hungry businesses and corporate financiers in 37 countries. The idea, he notes, is that as ‘it takes just three minutes to fall in love; it could take three minutes to find the right advisors’. Many may disagree but Leigh has a reputation few rival. Cavendish was last year named Boutique of the Year at the European Private Equity Awards.

20. Patrick Reeve (-)

Former Cazenove corporate financier Reeve manages Close Brothers’ top-performing stable of VCTs. He has achieved good returns by using the vehicle’s tax perks and structuring deals to back pubs, care homes, hotels and other asset-backed businesses. His penchant for more opportunistic financing saw him recently achieve a tenfold return on internet hotel room booker Active Hotels, which he backed weeks after the 9/11 disaster.

21. Katie Potts (43)

She might be small in height, but Katie Potts is a giant in her field. She is lead fund manager (and managing director) at Herald Investment Management. The group backs both quoted and unquoted ventures in technology, media and communications. Potts founded Herald in 1993. Prior to this she worked in investment management for five years and then joined SG Warburg’s research team.

22. Graeme White (-)

Barclays Private Equity has been a key player in the UK’s MBO market over the past 12 months, completing some seven deals in the past six months alone. The businesses backed have been diverse, the C34 million buyout of South American-themed restaurant chain Gaucho Grill following Barclays’ support of Lending Solution’s C90 million MBO from Norwich Union. White oversees investment activity in the UK and Europe.

23. Alan Bristow (8)

Founder of Icon Corporate Finance, Bristow is easily one of the most accomplished exit advisers in the UK. Over the last two years and in a difficult climate, Icon has successfully worked on four exit deals. Bristow is also a passionate supporter of innovative tech firms – last year, he was on a mission (and a UK roadshow) to find the top 25 tech companies in Europe, touring Cambridge, London and Bristol.

24. Chris Allner (-)

Fledgling fund manager Octopus has raised more VCT money than anyone else so far this year, already filling up the first Eclipse VCT and now seeking another £30 million. Much of this success stems from the recruitment of Allner, who made his name at NatWest Equity Partners. One of his first deals under Octopus is debt management concern TDX.

25. Sir Chris Evans (18)

The millionaire founder of Merlin Biosciences, a VC firm that invests in life science companies, Evans is now spearheading a campaign to raise £100 million for stem cell research. He is looking for £50 million from the private sector, with the rest being matched by Government funds. He has been looking to involve the likes of Sir Richard Branson and the former head of Glaxo, Sir Richard Sykes.

26. Chris Grew (-)

A personable and popular figure within the VC community, Chris Grew is a partner in US law firm Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr’s London office. Specialising in the technology sectors, Grew advises on public offers, VC transactions and mergers and acquisitions.

27. Bruce Huber (19)

Huber is one of three managing directors in the European division of US corporate finance adviser Broadview, which focuses on the TMT sector. The business was acquired, at the tail end of 2003, by investment bank Jeffries, which Huber says has helped to strengthen Broadview’s position in the marketplace. One notable deal last year was the sale of rock legend and ex-Genesis band member Peter Gabriel’s digital media business to Loudeye Corporation.

28. Bob Morton (10)

Company doctor and serial entrepreneur, Morton is an institution in his own right. Among his Southwind vehicle’s investments are no less than 11 AIM-listed companies, three of which employ him as chairman. Recently, he upped his stakes in software provider Planit, IT solutions provider DCS and insurance claims handler The Claims People. The secret of his success: ‘I buy low and sell high.’

29. Mike Fell (-)

Managing director at European private equity firm Granville Baird, Fell has a particular interest in the business services sector. The VC has established a strong footing in backing companies in the staffing industry, and completed three such deals last year. When it comes to spotting equity opportunities, Fell knows who the main players are by hosting a variety of sector-specific lunches, seminars and events for investors.

30. Chris Akers (21)

When not chairing sports consultancy Sports Resource Group and sports channel operator Extreme Group, Akers is active in the small company arena. As well as investing in restaurant operator Gourmet and Sports Café owner Coliseum, he recently float
ed two shells on AIM, TMT, a technology/media acquisitor, and leisure/media specialist Ardent. His goal for the current year: ‘to make my usual 200 per cent’.

31. Anthony Bolton (-)
Publicity-shy Bolton manages the Fidelity Special Situations Fund, AIM’s largest institutional investor by value.

32. Anthony Clarke (-)
Managing director of London Business Angels, London Seed Capital and director of NBAN/EBAN.

33. Philip Richards (-)
Co-founder of RAB Capital, the aggressive London-based fund manager.

34. David Williams (22)
Managing director of Sand Aire, which specialises in backing family businesses.

35. Giles Hargreave (-)

This straight-talking Lancastrian manages three funds, one of which, Marlborough Special Situations Fund, is the UK’s best performing fund on a 12-month view.

36. Simon Brickles (-)
Brickles, the ex-AIM chief, is now CEO of AIM-quoted PLUS Markets (OFEX).

37. Rob Carroll & Mike Piper (-)

Co-founders of East Midland’s-based investor and adviser Catapult Venture Management.

38. Jim Keeling (47)
Ever-affable Keeling is one of the brothers who run corporate finance advisory firm Corbett Keeling.

39. George Coelho (-)
Part of the Europe team at Benchmark Capital, the early-stage venture firm.

40. Peter Webb (14)
Unicorn Asset Management’s chief executive is a key player on the growth company scene.

41. John Gunn (17)
A veteran venture capitalist running family-run investment business Scheidegg.

42. Peter Leach (42)
Heads the growth service at accountancy and business adviser BDO Stoy Hayward.

43. Bernard Fairman (-)
Tech investment veteran, now managing partner of Foresight Venture Partners.

44. William Kilmer (-)
UK & Ireland managing director of chip manufacturer Intel’s venture capital arm.

45. Simon Acland (15)
Leading light at VCT fund management group Quester.

46. Paddy McGwire (-)
Managing director at Cobalt Corporate Finance, a TMT specialist.

47. Stuart Watson (44)
Watson is technology, communications and entertainment partner at Ernst & Young.

48. Richard Oldworth (-)
Chief executive of influential City public relations firm Buchanan Communications.

49. John French (-)
Serial entrepreneur who has his fingers in many AIM pies, including Air Music & Media, Claims People and Croma.

50. Darryl Eales (11)
Eales oversees the private equity outfit at LDC.

Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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