Nelson Peltz joins Unilever board; Saleh Panahi shares lessons learned from 10 years at Blackstone

A TCV GP steps into a senior advisor role.

Good morning, dealmakers. MK Flynn here with today’s Wire.

I hope you had a restful long weekend and found time to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for democracy.

If you received Friday’s Wire again yesterday, apologies. That was an error on our part – although I must say, Aaron Weitzman’s debut newsletter was indeed worth a second read!

Overhaul at Unilever? Nelson Peltz and Trian Fund Management are back in the news again this morning. As the largest shareholder of Wendy’s, Trian filed with the SEC last week its intention to explore a sale of the fast-food chain. Now Peltz has joined the board of Unilever after Trian acquired a 1.5 per cent stake in the maker of Magnum ice cream, Dove soap and Axe deodorant. The move “has heightened expectations of a drastic overhaul at Unilever, which faces discontent among its broader investor base over lacklustre performance and a failed attempt to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health division,” reports the Financial Times.

Innings shift. If you missed my recent Q&A with Vestar Capital’s Nikhil Bhat about how investing in data has changed over the years, I encourage you to read it.

Vestar was early to recognize the value of companies that leverage data in sectors, including healthcare. The New York private equity firm is still investing heavily in data-driven companies. In April, Hellman & Friedman agreed to acquire a majority stake in IRI and merge it with H&F portfolio company NPD. Vestar and New Mountain Capital will retain significant investments in the combined company. The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year.

“We are in the middle innings of a shift in what drives value and differentiation for information services businesses,” Bhat said. “Previously, it might have been enough to provide a proprietary data source, and deliver a raw data product to customers in a database or spreadsheet. Today, value is driven by providing customers with self-service tools to quickly extract actionable insights from the data, and seamlessly integrating these tools into client workflows to support augmented decision-making. The most advanced companies, agnostic of size or industry, are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to further enhance speed and quality of analytics.”

Read the full story here.

People move. Jake Reynolds, “a long-time general partner with growth specialist TCV, is stepping back into a senior adviser role, according to an investment report for Santa Barbara County Employees’ Retirement System,” reports Buyouts’ Chris Witkowsky. The move comes as TCV works to raise its 12th growth fund, reportedly targeting more than $5 billion. The investment report, prepared by Hamilton Lane for the pension system, said that as of March 2022 Reynolds had transitioned from GP to senior adviser.

Reynolds joined TCV in 1997 and focuses on investment areas like enterprise IT, software and tech-enabled services. His active investments include Clio, Cognite, Genesys, HireVue, OneTrust and Open English, among many others, according to TCV’s website.

No one from TCV returned a comment request. Reynolds did not respond to a LinkedIn connection request.

Operational Excellence. Calling all operators. Do you know a best-in-class operator? If so, submit your nominees to enter Private Equity International’s Operational Excellence Awards 2022.

Submit your entries to OpEx@peimedia.com by the Tuesday, June 21.

Company builders. As regular readers of the Wire know, I’ve been looking into how the private equity industry defines itself. Is it still about financial engineering, or is there much more to PE? What does private equity bring to the table?

I came across an interesting essay written by Saleh Panahi, a managing director in Blackstone’s private equity group in London, where he focuses on investments in the energy transition, industrials, media and communications. The essay is called “Lessons from ten years at Blackstone.”

Here’s what caught my eye:

“If you ask yourself if PE is for you or not, my thoughts are that people who like building something, who like to think about strategy for the long-term, who like working in teams, who relish being challenged as well as debating questions about uncertain outcomes on the basis of data, are likely to enjoy this job. On the other hand, people who consider investment to be quick trading of public markets, people who prefer a computer screen to working with other people, those who want instant reward for their efforts, will be less suited to this industry.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the value of PE. Email me at mk.flynn@peimedia.com.

That’s all for today.

Until tomorrow,
MK