PE Funds in Europe / Recommendations / Associate Level

Hello everyone - I currently work for a MM PE fund in NYC. Long and complicated story as to how I got here, but I am an Analyst in my second year and for various reasons I am looking to go back to Europe (from Germany here).

I was hoping to get some input from you all in terms of the following:
- PE Recruiting in Europe
- PE Funds to recommend (E.g. comp / carry / learning curve)
- What comp to expect?
- Work / Life Balance as compared to NYC

Appreciate I am asking a lot - so an answer on either is appreciated.

Comments (32)

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 25, 2020 - 4:01am

This is what I know:

  • Main headhunters: KEA, Blackwood, Cornell.. and then PER, Dartmouth Partners, Albert Cliff, Walker Hamill. Contact them on their websites and they will reach out for phone calls.
    Recruiting seems to happen at end-of-program marks and on as-needed basis (when vacancies arise) rather than in a super structured fashion like in the US. Since you are from Germany, the move should be pretty doable. I have seen several cases of MM > MM, UMM, MF lateral moves in Europe; just less dogmatic a market. I think US PE experience is well respected and regarded, and you will have a story about going back home. Big concern will be lack of European business knowledge but at least you have a local growing up perspective.

  • Firms: CVC and EQT are the biggest players, closely followed by Permira (older than EQT but smaller flagship today) and Cinven. Advent was originally a European fund only and remains a big European player. Carlyle (Akzo Nobel ~$10bn) , KKR (Unilever spreads ~$8bn) also have large separate Europe vehicles. Other firms of note: Ardian, Bridgepoint, PAI, Hg, BC, Triton.
    CVC is the OG shop - can't go wrong there. EQT just went public so increasingly becoming a force. Permira has shifted focus to the US somewhat, with the biggest deals happening in US technology. Cinven just did Thyssenkrupp with Advent, and has been in every major European auction reported publicly, so probably a firm to watch on its way to become EQT/CVC in Europe.

Triton is a big German-speaking-focused fund. CVC, Permira (TeamViewer, big German success story), Advent, Cinven all have Frankfurt offices. EQT seems to be in Munich.

  • Comp perhaps ~30% lower than US peers.

  • W/L reportedly materially better than US. Less capitalist society.

Jun 25, 2020 - 5:19am

good summary - only to add more details given I do have some GER background

  • Hg is primarily focused on tech investments, based in Munich
  • Ardian is, to be fair, more a fund-2-fund investment and infrastructure fund rather than a traditional PE. The people I met from their LBO team are average, based in Frankfurt
  • BC is based in Hamburg (kind of anomaly) - not even sure how long BC will survive
  • Triton has some good and bad sides, decent people offset by mediocre/poor people / some decent exit and then some awful ones, based in Frankfurt
  • CVC no need to say much apart that it is probably the best PE shop in Europe (along Advent/Cinven), based in Frankfurt
  • Advent: always liked the people, their strong European DNA, good mix of IBs + consultants, based in Frankfurt
  • Advent & Cinven: with their recent acquisition of Thyssen Elevator - this is definitely interesting
  • EQT, not much info apart that its investment teams are pretty large, asso contracts are only for 2y, high mix of IB and MBB, but high turnover, based in Munich
  • PAI, good firm but small team in Munich; much politics given that the HQ is in Paris so every decision is made in Paris
  • KKR has recently opened-up an office in Frankfurt
  • Carlyle has a small office in Munich but i have never seen any activities from them

Other funds to consider: Montagu (decent MM firm), 3i

Most of these firms have decent deal activities with smaller investment teams enabling to gain great exposures. pay, as mentioned, is below London but the relatively cheap life offset this. But living in Germany is in stark contrast to cosmopolitan cities such as NY or London. Language is also key, and most of these firms require to be at least fluent in German.

Jul 10, 2020 - 3:29pm

Hi There - I really appreciate the input a lot. I am actually definitely planning to move back to Europe now - with the current Visa situation in the US there is no future for me there anymore.

Currently still employed at a mid sized PE shop at Analyst level (would have made Associate next year). Currently at ~$160k Total Comp, with Associate going to be ~$250k.

What do you think about small funds vs. MF? What I kind of like in small growing funds is potential to grow with the firm and get more carry in newer funds. Am interviewing (coincidence) with one new PE shop in Berlin, but have no comp offer yet.

Jun 25, 2020 - 4:41am

MM Funds: Ardian, Permira, Gimv, Eurazeo, Tikehau, L Catterton has a presence in Europe, BridgePoint, Lion Capital, Antin (infra) ...
Also Canadian pension fund (CPP Investments, OMERS PE, CDPQ, PSP...)

Expect lower salary in Germany than London (but COL is significantly lower).
For a data point, associates in France get EUR60-70k base in MMPE with possible carry if they started as analysts. Don't expext YoY increase in salary, except if you have an offer elsewhere and they really want to keep you.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jun 25, 2020 - 1:06pm

Permira is not MM. Their fund is > Cinven's currently.
CVC ($18bn), EQT ($13bn), Permira ($12bn), Cinven ($11bn).

And a lot of the Canadian pension funds only do co-investments.

Jul 10, 2020 - 3:32pm

Hi Zlatan,
Appreciate the comment a lot. I have to be honest for $60-70k Base I wouldn't do it (unless there is super much upside on carry etc.).

Am currently at Analyst level (next yr associate) making ~$160k all in with Associate being more ~$250k all-in.

What's your opinion with Small PE funds that are growing (probably) pretty significantly in the coming years. I would think its more risky, but could be pretty rewarding in two ways. 1) You could be more part of the process and building it with the team 2) More carry and potential to move up quickly with more funds coming in.

Would be interested in opinions! Thanks a lot!

Jul 11, 2020 - 12:31pm

I'd say astorg is the best performing out of the 3 the buy very niche assets and turn them into good businesses that are often sold to most UMMs shops. Eurazeo is struggling from what I hear and bridgepoint has had major successes (F1, pret) and big fails.

Most Helpful
Jun 26, 2020 - 12:24am

Top 3 Dogs are by FAR.: CVC, Advent, Cinven if you know the deals and returns they made.

Other US megafunds in Europe are very decent but just don't come close in terms of returns for some reason (eg KKR, BX, Apollo etc).

Other fun facts:
- HG is known for having a horrible culture, depending on which of the tech funds you go to (large, mid, lower)

  • BC Partners is the guy that had their 'glory days' in 2013 but quickly lost that rep when they absolutely blew up some deals (dunmen orange, phones4U, daisy group, fitness first, pronovias). they've become the poster child for 'when the musics stops..'

  • KKR is known amongst recruiters to 'have a rock solid brand but lacking in returns'. I think they really turned this around with key people changes in L5Y

  • Bx is known to do very few, but big size mover deals. think Merlin, refinitiv etc. great for the firm, not so sure if great from a junior perspective (1 closed deal in....x years?)

  • APO can probably win the 'worst culture in Europe' award. Beating HG. high base starting pay for associates if you're willing to sell your soul though. work itself is also hairy and not as interesting as people think looking from the outside...

  • Hellman&Friedman Deserves a real special shoutout. they are slightly under the radar, but have out of this world returns. they would be the 'quiet guy who cares about nothing but great investments'.
    just google where their office is in London... kind of stands out and if you know, you know!

  • TPG and Warburg are both in the same camp of 'we would NOT even talk to you if not for your American track record'

  • Bain Capital are a bunch of smart guys but their fund 4 and arguably fund 5 has really suffered like no of smart people but probably needs some risk governance from chasing deals? IQ really doesn't guarantee returns

  • Cinven is also great but is like the shorter and less cool brother of Advent (not in terms of fund size, but just overall institution)

  • Ardian has better adjacent businesses (fund of funds, infra), but you really question 'what are you even doing in PE?'.

  • Permira would fall under the team of 'A Players' but similar to Cinven vs Advent, they are like the less attractive version of CVC

  • APAX really took a HIT in their reputation if you look at anything their consumer team has touched. somehow they've partially recovered their reputation in Europe thanks to the tech team, but also heard tough culture

  • on the mid / smaller end of the market, shoutout to Bridgepoint, EQT mid market fund, Vitruvian (the mini HG), Francisco Partners,

also as an anecdotal point I think the rumour of Europeans working less hard than Americans in PE is kind of nonsense if you compare averages... but of course at the extreme ends, the craziest person in America would probably 'win' most hours in the office.
Whoever comes to Europe thinking it's sun tanning Friday or ski trip monday is in for a big shock

  • 14
  • 1
Jul 10, 2020 - 3:35pm

This is a great response and I really appreciate it.
I am currently looking at a very small brand new PE shop in Germany. I can see the advantages of that in a way that I could be part of the growth story and potentially rake in some carry and rise within the company fairly quickly if new funds are raised quickly.

But its also risky if being stuck at a no name PE shop if it is not doing well.

What are your thought? Also what are your thoughts / experiences on hiring process and comp?

Currently Analyst in NYC PE shop ~$160k all-in. Associate next year should mean ~$250k all in.

Any responses greatly appreciated!

Jul 10, 2020 - 4:25pm

I wouldn't bank too much on that growth story - unless its explicitly written that you will get carry, never trust them is generally good advice.

I mean the real upside here is for the founders and senior deal makers, not you. They HOPE to be able to attract good enough talent before they establish a track record / brand name. If i'm honest, the short end of the stick here is towards you.

That being said if the comp is attractive enough and you like the pedigree and culture of the people, by all means do it!

I am personally conservative so am biased to not take this risk

  • 4
Jul 10, 2020 - 4:32pm

First, good luck - weird times atm.

Big Infra PE in Europe would be GIP (office in London), but based in NYC. They did a few interesting deals with London Gatwick airport and a few big off-shore wind deals. Did not follow them lately, so not sure.

Pretty big funds in the US, but less well knows I would say. Absolute sweatshop from what I heard, decent pay.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 10, 2020 - 4:56pm

Thank you - good luck to you too. Yes GIP is obviously a huge name, good to hear they're active in Europe too. During your research so far, have you seen many people make the jump from NYC to EU at the analyst / associate level? Whether Infra or Corporate PE.

Also, anyone know what comp looks like in London for Infra PE in Europe as well? I imagine the MFs/opportunistic funds pay in line with street, but have heard of some core/core+ paying their associates barely GBP100k. Would be quite the pay cut from NYC IB...

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Jan 18, 2021 - 3:47pm

Why make the jump back?

If you are a native German speaker and have the citizenship, there is not much besides potential logistics that stands in your way? With corona now, even that is no problem. Buddy of mine got his non-infra MF offer without ever visiting the office.

Jul 29, 2021 - 9:33am

No idea about London. CVC Europe offices tend to work with boutiques, for example a CVC strat opps Brussels/Benelux role (Investment Executive/Director) with European wide coverage was shopped by Nordbridge Group who have relatively few mandates and only have a couple recruiters in their employ.

LBO-modeling companies on a Corona-adjusted normalized proforma run-rate EBITDA basis since 2020.
  • 1
Jul 29, 2021 - 9:29am

Decent LMM shop - Waterland, Inflexion, Livingbridge, Argos Wityu, Aurelius, EMK, DB Capital, Exponent, Equistone, Ergon, Levine Leichtman, Gilde Buyout, A&M Capital, Ares, etc. all not mentioned. Also long-hold funds (CVC, EQT, Core Equity, Castik Capital) got no mention. 

The long row of European Mid Market players has a huge variability in culture, comp, performance, etc. 

LBO-modeling companies on a Corona-adjusted normalized proforma run-rate EBITDA basis since 2020.
  • 2
Jan 18, 2021 - 1:33am

Anyone knows much about Nordic Capital? They seem to be big in Europe (€6bn last fund) and I have heard good things about the culture there. 

Jul 29, 2021 - 9:26am

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LBO-modeling companies on a Corona-adjusted normalized proforma run-rate EBITDA basis since 2020.
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Jan 18, 2021 - 10:05am

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