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Advent International Enlists Help of Software Veteran Harry Debes

Harry Debes, who retired as CEO of Lawson Software earlier this year, has joined the “operating partner program” of Advent International, the New York-based private equity firm. Debes’s role will involve advising and working closely with Advent’s investment teams to identify attractive opportunities. Advent’s operating partner program includes more than 80 senior executives, who advise and assist the firm on a wide range of issues.


Advent International, the global private equity firm, today announced that Harry Debes, former president and chief executive officer of Lawson Software, has joined the firm’s Operating Partner Program.  He will advise and work closely with Advent’s technology, media and telecom (TMT) team to identify attractive opportunities and generate post-investment value in software and technology companies globally.

Mr. Debes joined Lawson Software in 2005, growing the enterprise resource planning software and services vendor’s revenues from $350 million to $850 million.  As the leader of the company, he also oversaw the sale of Lawson Software to Infor in 2011.  Previously, Mr. Debes was president and chief executive officer of SPL WorldGroup Inc., a leading provider of enterprise software to the utility and government market, which was acquired by Oracle in 2006.

Tim Franks, Advent Managing Director and the head of the firm’s New York office, said: “Harry is one of the software industry’s most experienced leaders.  He has a thorough understanding of how to grow a software business and achieve bottom line results.  That knowledge, along with his experience in more than 30 acquisitions, complements Advent’s approach to value creation.”

Eric Wei, Advent Principal and member of the firm’s TMT team, said: “Thanks to his experience across numerous application software companies, Harry brings an insightful perspective on all the key value drivers of a software business.  He is a great addition to Advent, and we look forward to working with him to identify and develop software investment opportunities on a global basis.”

Mr. Debes said: “Advent has a proven ability to tackle complex situations and deliver long-term value through operational enhancements and earnings growth.  I am delighted to join a firm with a solid track record of success in transforming businesses.  Advent is a highly focused global organization and I’m excited to now be part of the team.”

Mr. Debes received a BA with Honors from the University of Toronto and an MBA from McMaster University.  A permanent resident in the United States, he is also a citizen of Canada and Australia.

This is the latest appointment in Advent’s Operating Partner Program, a long-established and successful element of the firm’s highly operational approach to investing.  The program includes over 80 senior industry executives, many of whom have been involved in multiple Advent investments.  These executives typically assist in activities such as finding attractive investment opportunities, conducting due diligence, and creating and driving value creation plans for Advent’s portfolio companies.

Advent has been an active investor in technology, media and telecom for over 20 years, and has invested in more than 100 companies in these sectors.  Targeting both growth and buyout opportunities, Advent is currently investing out of three funds globally: the $10.4 billion GPE VI fund, focused on North America and Western Europe; the $1.65 billion LAPEF V fund, focused on Latin America; and the €1 billion ACEE IV fund, focused on Central and Eastern Europe.  Notable exited investments in technology and technology-enabled services include: AspenTech (NASDAQ: AZPN), Mach, Sophis, RedPrairie, and TOTVS.  Current investments include Vantiv, WageWorks, Equiniti, SkillSoft and WorldPay.  Most recently, Advent entered into exclusive negotiations for the acquisition of the Card Systems and Identity divisions of French firm Oberthur Technologies (subject to closing).

About Advent International

Founded in 1984, Advent International is one of the world’s leading global buyout firms, with offices in 17 countries on four continents.  A driving force in international private equity for 27 years, Advent has built an unparalleled global platform of over 170 investment professionals across Western and Central Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia.  The firm focuses on international buyouts, strategic repositioning opportunities and growth buyouts in five core sectors, working actively with management teams to drive revenue growth and earnings improvements in portfolio companies.  Since inception, Advent has raised $26 billion in private equity capital and, through its buyout programs, has completed over 270 transactions valued at over $60 billion in 35 countries.  For more information, visit