Author: Ross Butler

Mirja Lehmler-Brown on LP opportunities in Europe

Mirja Lehmler-Brown is the founding managing director of Hayfin Capital Management‘s Private Equity Solutions investment team.

She previously worked with Hayfin founder Tim Flynn (listen to his Fund Shack podcast here) at Goldman Sachs, before moving into PE fund investment with Aberdeen Asset Management and Scottish Widows.

In this podcast, we talk about building a private equity fund investment function from scratch, opportunities in the European mid-market and the wider economy.

Tariq Fancy

Tariq Fancy: sceptical sustainable investor

In 2019, Tariq Fancy quit as BlackRock’s most senior sustainability investor.

In 2021, he released a rather long, three-part essay explaining his disillusionment with the concept of stakeholder capitalism and the ESG investment industry that has grown up alongside it.

In this private chat, he explains why sustainable investment is ineffective and what the alternatives could be.

We also discuss his work with Rumie, a charity he founded to expand access to education across North America and which is currently very busy in Afghanistan addressing the plight of particularly girls and women in the aftermath of 2021’s military withdrawal.

Luke Johnson, Risk Capital

Luke Johnson, entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist

In his 20s, Luke Johnson led the acquisition of Pizza Express and as chairman, helped it become the UK’s leading pizza brand.

He has since established and helped develop household names, Strada, Giraffe, the Ivy, Zoggs and Integrated Dental Holdings, as part of his family office vehicle, Risk Capital Partners.

He is a successful newspaper columnist, author, former chairman of the Royal Society of Arts, and current Chairman of The Institute of Cancer Research.

In our exclusive podcast, Luke provides a critique of private equity, a critique of public markets, a critique of lockdowns and some of the most sensible advice we’ve heard yet about how businesses should be run in this brave new world.

Fabian Chrobog on Europe’s special situations

Fabian Chrobog is founder and CIO of North Wall Capital, a private capital investor in Western European special situations.

We speak about his journey from the world of investment banking to launching as a first-time manager, starting with deal-by-deal raising, before launching a series of specialist funds to prosecute private capital opportunities.

We cover complex private credit opportunities, legal assets, Amazon reseller roll-ups, teamwork, collaboration, incentivisation and building a firm for the future.

OPOS Anne Glover

Optos, with Douglas Anderson and Anne Glover


Anne Glover is CEO of Amadeus Capital Partners. This is the story of how she saw the potential in Douglas Anderson’s break through optical medical device concept to create a world leading business from scratch. Optos has since saved the sight of, perhaps, millions of people.

A lot is written about how venture capital works, but this very human story conveys so well the uncertainty and challenges, as well as the judgement and persistence that it takes, to build a truly valuable company from scratch.

Alistair Lester Aon

Alistair Lester of Aon, on protecting & enhancing returns in a risky world

Alistair Lester is CEO of Aon’s M&A and transaction services business in EMEA.

But this is unlike any conversation about insurance you’ve ever had or heard (probably).

Aon has spent recent years acquiring expertise across the range of disciplines to provide services that both protect and enhance returns, in a risky world.

For the podcast (audio version) click here.

Some highlights:

On IP:

“We’ve pioneered the ability to wrap insurance around your intangible assets or intellectual property. You can potentially use those instruments as collateral, which enable you then to access different forms of financing.”

On deal risks:

We think those three approaches, of price-chipping contractual recourse, and deferred consideration, are all perfectly valid, but none of them are actually optimal ways of dealing with risk in a transaction.

We are able to deliver these structured insurance instruments across a wide range of areas, including structured credit and tax and litigation, et cetera, whereby spending a pound, a dollar or a Euro on that instrument you are realizing or recognizing multiples of that either in the enterprise value or somewhere in the capital structure of the transaction.

On recruiting talent:

“Over the past 5 to 10 years Aon has added inorganically, areas of talent and capability, whether it’s in cyber, intellectual property, the talent world, we’ve added businesses and people who have bought different skillsets to our firm. Many of whom have had zero exposure to the insurance industry before. These individuals give us perspectives on different emerging risks.

“We have the former head of intellectual property at Phillips in the Netherlands global head of IP at Phillips. We have the former general accountants of general counsel for patents from Microsoft. People who honestly, if you asked them a few years ago, would not have imagined they would work for Aon.”

On cyber:

“We know what is happening in the cyber risk world, because cyber insurers are paying claims for our clients. So we know what’s creating those claims and how much is being paid for those claims, and how those claims are being managed, and how the risks can be mitigated to avoid them happening.”

On ligitation finance:

“Litigation financing has been around a long time. It’s absolutely got a place. It provides a very essential service. But we are introducing new ideas, which potentially are alternatives to that, arguably again at a lower cost of capital.”

and much more!

Dan Aylott

Dan Aylott, Cambridge Associates

Dan Aylott is Head of European Private Investments at Cambridge Associates.

This is a Fund Shack ‘private chat’ about the large opportunity set in the European private equity market, from buyouts through to venture capital, with a focus on growth strategies in all these markets.

According to Dan, “Growth is the predominant factor in achieving outsized returns in private market portfolios.”

With recent strong performance coming out of Europe, and expansion of manager strategies make for an interesting hunting ground.

You can listen to the audio-only podcast here.


Cyril Demaria

Cyril Demaria on Asset allocation and private markets

Cyril Demaria is a leading private equity thinker, fund investor, and affiliate professor at EDHEC. He is the author of numerous books on alternative investment, most recently co-authoring Asset Allocation and Private Markets (March 2021).

This is a Fund Shack ‘private chat’ about the difficulties of reconciling a liquid with an illiquid investment programme, and how institutional investors can begin to reconcile these two investments universes.

Alternatively, you can listen to the audio-only podcast here.


Bob Long, Conversus

Bob Long on making private equity liquid and accessible

Bob Long originally listed Conversus Capital in Europe in 2017, and it was the largest publicly traded private equity vehicle of its day.

He recently relaunched the Conversus brand within the private markets giant Stepstone, and together they have launched a new liquid evergreen private equity vehicle that appears to solve the discount problem that plagues listed private equity, and that’s a tough problem to solve.

If you prefer, the podcast (audio-only version) is here.