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CVC co-founder Steve Koltes to step down as firm plans to float

Steve Koltes, co-founder of Europe’s biggest private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, is stepping down this year as the company works on plans for a stock market listing.

Koltes, one of a handful of dealmakers that spun CVC out of Citibank in 1993, will leave in October “to focus on his private interests”, the firm said. He will remain on CVC’s board as a non-executive director.

“For everything I can do well, there are dozens in the firm who can do it better,” Koltes, 65, said in a statement. “After 34 glorious years with this very special place, that’s the best sign that my job is done.” 

The departure is a sign of a generational shift at CVC, which is considering an initial public offering after decades in private hands.

Under the IPO plan, CVC would sell its management fee income to shareholders while keeping most or all of its more lucrative revenue stream, a 20 per cent profit share, in private hands.

Koltes is one of the firm’s three co-chairs, alongside Rolly van Rappard and Donald Mackenzie. Rob Lucas, who joined CVC in 1996, is the lead managing partner on its investment committee for deals in Europe and the Americas.

“Steve is my close friend and collaborator both inside CVC and on a personal level,” van Rappard said. “Over our 34 years of shared history, my colleagues and I always turned to him as a voice of conscience for the firm.”

Mackenzie said he and Koltes had been “good friends, business partners and fellow dealmakers from the very earliest days of CVC”. 

Koltes’ departure is the latest industry changing of the guard. The founders of US groups Carlyle, Apollo and TPG have in recent years handed on to a new generation of dealmakers, while Henry Kravis and George Roberts stepped down as co-chief executives of KKR in October.

CVC, a secretive Luxembourg-based group, has $122bn in assets under management, according to its website. It is best known for deals involving Formula One, the Six Nations rugby tournament, the communications company Teneo, and Unilever’s tea business.

Last year, it took steps to bring in outside capital, selling a stake to Blue Owl’s Dyal Capital unit, and to increase its asset base by acquiring asset manager Glendower Capital. Changes of this sort are often precursors to stock market listings of private equity groups.

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