Terra Firma direct secondaries head departs

Michele Russo, a Doughty Hanson and Lazard veteran who joined the buyout firm as a managing director, has left after over one year in the role, Secondaries Investor has learned.

Terra Firma Capital Partners‘ managing director responsible for leading the buyout firm’s push into direct secondaries has departed, Secondaries Investor has learned.

Michele Russo, one of three executives who joined the London-headquartered firm in April last year to boost sourcing, executing and managing investments, is no longer with the firm, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Terra Firma had unveiled plans in June last year to move into acquiring portfolios of assets from funds at the end of their lives, with Russo leading the charge, as Secondaries Investor previously reported.

Prior to Terra Firma, Russo, a Doughty Hanson and Lazard veteran, had established Milan-based Opera Private Equity to focus on direct secondaries in 2007.

In a June 2016 interview with sister publication Private Equity International, Justin King, Terra Firma’s vice-chairman and head of portfolio companies, said Russo’s joining the firm boosted its direct secondaries strategy.

“This will be very attractive because you have a mutual trap: businesses are trapped with owners who can’t support their business plans,” said King. “The owners are trapped because they can’t support the business plan and don’t want to exit, as they see themselves selling a lot of potential value. The GP is trapped because they are no longer collecting fees because the fund life has finished. Finally, LPs want liquidity. Michele has done that before and we think we are similarly well positioned to step in and take that GP role.”

Alex Williams and Jyrki Lee Korhonen, who joined at the same time as Russo as managing directors, have also since left the firm. Williams, a former First Reserve executive, left in April while Korhonen, who led Terra Firma’s Nordic investments, left in May for DH Private Equity Partners, as PEI reported.

Eight senior investment professionals remain listed on Terra Firma’s website, including chairman and founder Guy Hands.

Russo’s next move, and if he will be replaced, remain unclear.

A spokeswoman for Terra Firma declined to comment.