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Nordic private equity is hot, and hiring

In terms of personnel the numbers are small, but Nordic private equity firms are buoyant – and hiring.

Swedish PE and venture capital firms reported record levels of buyout investments last year, and activity is being sustained into this year, according to the Swedish Private Equity & Venture Capital Association.

Healthcare, cleantech, consumer goods, IT companies and services have all been “hot” over the past two years, Marie Reinius, chief executive of the association has said.

“The fact that Sweden has been the base for so many private equity companies means that we have a relatively large group of people with expertise in the area,” she told the news agency Swedish Wire last week.

In 2010, buyout investments in Swedish portfolio companies totalled SEK23.7bn, according to the association’s statistics, a figure that was the highest investment level ever registered for the Swedish buyout sector and more than twice the size of the amount invested in 2009.

“Swedish PE-owned companies employ 180,000 people and buy a lot of services from qualified consultants and advisors. This means that this is an important sector for future Swedish growth,” added Reinius.

This buoyancy is definitely feeding through into hiring activity, agrees Gail McManus, founder of PER Recruiting, which works within the Nordic market.

“Often in the Nordics, PE teams will be quite small, perhaps just one to two people, often a founder and an associate,” she explains.

“What we are seeing increasingly now, however, is these teams looking to make a few select additions, so perhaps becoming three or four.

“It is often the addition of a middle or junior-level person, someone who has good transactional and execution skills – so less an originator – but who knows how to do deals,” she adds.

Inevitably, some Scandinavian cultural background and knowledge of the market is of course important for those looking to make this sort of transition.

“Deal experience is also important, with experience gained in London often looked upon favourably, perhaps two to three years’ experience ideally,” says McManus.

“We are seeing some leveraged finance guys looking to move across, although M&A is by far the most commonly sought-after background.

“When it comes to money, it is pretty much a standard package these days, and pretty much has to be on par with what the investment banks will be offering.

“However, unlike luring back someone who is a bit older, where lifestyle or family may be important persuading factors, persuading someone at this earlier stage of their career and who perhaps has not been that long out of Nordics, can be more challenging,” she adds.

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