Terra Firma Hires Kamal Tabet

Buyout firm Terra Firma has hired the former head of private equity for Citigroup, Kamal Tabet, as its new head of investor relations, Reuters reported. Tabet spent 14 years at Citigroup and was global head of the financial entrepreneurs group until January 2009, Reuters wrote.

(Reuters) – Private equity firm Terra Firma has hired the former head of private equity at Citigroup as its new head of investor relations, filling a critical role as it prepares the ground for a new fund that could come in 2012.

Terra Firma [TERA.UL] said on Monday it had hired Kamal Tabet who spent 14 years at Citigroup (C.N) and was global head of the financial entrepreneurs group until January 2009.

A Lebanese national, Tabet left the U.S. bank at the start of the same year that Terra Firma and its founder Guy Hands launched a lawsuit against Citigroup over its ill-fated deal for music group EMI.

Tabet steps into the role vacated by Michael Hewett, who left the firm last year. Tabet also joins Terra Firma’s senior management team.

The appointment comes as Terra Firma begins to prepare the ground for its next fundraising, expected to come sometime in 2012, and attempts put the loss of EMI [LNDONE.UL] to Citigroup behind it.

The pressure will be on Tabet to prove to investors that EMI was a one-off and that new acquisitions, such as Italy’s market leading solar power producer Rete Rinnovabile, acquired this year in a 641 million euro deal, can produce better returns.

In a recent letter to investors, Hands said its fourth buyout fund would likely be 2 billion to 3 billion euros ($2.9 billion to $4.4 billion), significantly smaller than the 5.4 billion euros the firm raised in 2007.

A fund of that size would allow the firm to go back to deals requiring an initial equity investment of 250 million to 500 million euros — again significantly smaller than its 4 billion pound ($6.57 billion) deal for EMI which saw the firm’s entire 1.7 billion pound investment wiped out when Citigroup seized control in February.

Terra Firma has about 800 million euros remaining to invest from its third buyout fund, a person familiar with the situation said. (Reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Jane Merriman) ($1=.6829 Euro) ($1=.6091 Pound)