Swiss split particles while funds join forces

Marc Sidwell
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IT’S set to be an explosive Fourth of July. Quite apart from the fireworks at the Treasury select committee, today in Geneva the atom-smashers at Cern will announce signs of the elusive Higgs boson, a key component to explaining the property of mass in the universe. Winton Capital was said to be recruiting in Geneva recently. Perhaps with the Higgs found, a few more Swiss physicists can down tools and come help crunch the City’s numbers.

Meanwhile, BlackRock announced in Zurich yesterday that it will be taking on a little more mass from Swiss Re, when it gains its European private equity and infrastructure fund of funds franchise Swiss Re Private Equity Partners (SRPEP). Integrating with BlackRock’s existing unit BlackRock Private Equity Partners (BRPEP), this will double client commitments to $15bn (£9.6bn). Swiss Re will retain its underlying investments. Neither side sees smashing profits, but in a marketplace made nervous by the approach of new regulatory burdens, the reasons for consolidation and outsourcing are easy to discover.

The acquisition by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) of HgCapital-owned SHL aims to “create the world’s foremost source of insight on the measurement and management of talent for business and government.” Given the issues both sides have to grapple with, one can only wish that project well.

HgCapital’s investors have in any case managed a 26 per cent return over the six years since it bought the talent measurement specialist. SHL has benefited too, with revenue up more than 80 per cent since the private equity firm took the helm. No psychometric tests needed to identify talent at work in this case.

Marc Sidwell is City A.M.’s managing editor.