Hands looks for next deal

Marion Dakers
PRIVATE equity tycoon Guy Hands said yesterday he was focused on “the next deal” following his attempts to sue Citigroup over his purchase of struggling music label EMI.

He said his firm would “look like geniuses” if it hadn’t bought EMI, but refused to discuss his recent legal battle against Citigroup. “EMI is where EMI is,” he told the Super Investor conference in Paris yesterday.

It was the Terra Firma owner’s first public appearance since losing a $2bn (£1.25bn) fraud case against the investment bank over the purchase of EMI. Hands unsuccessfully claimed Citigroup had tricked him into paying $6.8bn for the debt-laden firm in May 2007.

He told conference delegates that private equity needed to accept lower returns in the future. “2004 to 2007 was an anomaly...the Woodstock years. We have to accept reality and stop chasing ghosts. We are back where we were,” Hands said.

Buyout funds should return to basics, he said. Private equity would have to invest in good businesses and hold on to them long-term rather than selling out after three years.

Investors should expect returns of eight or nine per cent rather than the 20 per cent seen at the height of the market, he added.