US Barbarians Hire Hollick to Storm European Gates

13 January 2005

Britons Awake! The Barbarians are at the Gate.

If not the gates of Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London, the portals of UK and continental European media companies are about to be stormed by feared US venture capital marauder Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

KKR, whose predatory takeover methods were eternized in 1990 by Bryan Burrough's and John Helyar's best-selling book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, have long seen Europe as an unplundered hunting ground.

But like all stalkers, KKR (motto: 'proactive, patient, creative') needs a reliable local guide. Short on European experience itself, KKR has hired itself a renowned local big-game hunter: Lord Clive Hollick, wily politician, Labour peer, and a media magnate in his own right.

Currently chief executive of publicly-quoted United Business Media, a company he has served for over thirty years, Hollick is on the cusp of retirement and itching to supplement his pension with another challenge.

Not short of offers to occupy his 'retirement, Hollick prefers to focus on running businesses rather than on corporate governance and gladhanding investors.

"A chief executive has to spend 20% of his time dealing with shareholders," he says. "In private equity, you don't have to do that, and if you're restructuring a business, you are not tied to a half-yearly or quarterly reporting cycle."

As managing direct of KKR's European business, Hollick will join Barbarian chief Henry R Kravis and his raiders in April. Expect action - but not tomorrow. Remember the middle word of that motto!

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff