OMERS hires former Cognetas founder

The Canadian pension’s private equity arm has enlisted Jonathan Mussellwhite, formerly of Cognetas, to join its London office.

Jonathan Mussellwhite has been named as a managing director in the London office of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Private Equity (OMERS OPE), the private equity arm of the Canadian pension fund, according to a statement.

Mussellwhite was previously at the European private equity firm Cognetas, where he was one its founding partners before the firm changed its name to Motion Equity Partners following its $430 million restructuring in 2012, one of the first major European restructurings of an end-of-life fund.

Cognetas rebranded itself in a bid to shake off negative publicity following the departure of the firm’s managing partner and founder, Nigel McConnell.

McConnell left Cognetas in 2011 due to “strategic differences”, as reported by PEI at the time. Subsequently, Motion closed its office in Frankfurt, reduced its office in London and shifted its investment focus to French and Italian markets.

Motion was not in a position to raise a new fund, seeking a cash injection from Harbourvest to gain some extra time to realise the remaining assets, without being perceived as distressed sellers, with a carry reset on the fund as part of the restructuring back in 2011.

OMERS Private Equity oversees the private equity activities of OMERS and has over $6.5 billion of investments under management. The fund’s investment strategy includes the ownership of businesses in North America and Europe.

Last year, the Toronto-based group, together with Alberta Investment Management, bought Vue Entertainment for £935m.