PAI Partners has hired its first new partner in almost three years, bringing on board Charles Bouaziz, the former CEO of PepsiCo Inc.'s Western European operations. Bouaziz will split his time between overseeing PAI's portfolio performance group, which seeks to improve the performance of PAI portfolio companies, and searching for deals as part of PAI's consumer goods group.
"PAI is quite unique in the way that it tries to leverage its network of contacts with family-owned companies to be ahead of the sales process," says Bouaziz, 49. "I hope my network of CEO and senior management contacts will assist in that mission."
Bouaziz joins Paris-based PAI following a year as a freelance business adviser, a period during which he did some work for PAI. That followed an abortive tenure with French retailer Monoprix, a unit of France's No. 2 retailer, Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA, where he served as CEO for four months before leaving in July 2010 for "personal reasons."
PAI's relationship with Bouaziz dates back to his time with PepsiCo, where he spent nearly 20 years, from 1991 to 2010, initially in charge of its French operations and later as head of Western Europe (a remit that didn't include the U.K. operations). "We [PepsiCo] looked at an acquisition with PAI about five years ago," he says. "In that case we didn't win the asset."
Bouaziz is no dealmaking novice. At PepsiCo he oversaw two internal company mergers. He added Sara Lee Corp.'s European nuts business in France and the Benelux region for €130 million ($179 million) in 2005. In 2007 he was involved in negotiations to expand PepsiCo and Unilever plc's existing iced-tea joint venture across Western European markets, a deal that involved PepsiCo's paying an undisclosed sum for its 50% stake in the new markets.
The appointment of Bouaziz offers further proof that PAI has returned to business as usual following a turbulent 2009, during which it suspended its activities and replaced its chairman, Dominique Mégret, in a boardroom coup that installed current chairman and CEO Lionel Zinsou. The private equity shop returned to dealmaking after a long hiatus earlier this year with a series of big-ticket disposals including its stake in French yogurt maker Yoplait France, auto service group Kwik-Fit (GB) Ltd. and French engineering group Spie SA.
New acquisitions may have to wait for the launch of a new PAI fund. That had been expected before year's end, but given market turmoil in Europe it may now be delayed.