Guy Hands to conquer City again?

Investment king looks to regain his crown. But backers may be reticent, reports Jamie Dunkley

Guy Hands' world was in tatters. Standing on the steps of a New York courthouse, the private equity king had been humbled and humiliated by defeat in a court battle with Citigroup.

It looked as though there was no way back for one of Britain's most famous financiers. Within weeks, EMI, the music company behind a Who's Who of international artists, from The Beatles to Katy Perry, that he had bought for more than £4bn in 2007, was taken over by the US investment bank.

City reaction to the 2010 judgement was not kind. Hands had overpaid for EMI and had lost investors – including himself – a cool £1.75bn in the process.

Soon after, he retreated to the tax haven of Guernsey and vowed to return: "It is a question of learning from it, moving on and not allowing it to make one bitter or twisted or despondent." However, few believed him and nearly three years later he is yet to get into his pre-crisis stride.

Recent events have suggested, though, that this may be about to change, with rumours of a comeback for the former Goldman Sachs star gathering pace.

Terra Firma, his private equity empire, is expected to list property group Deutsche Annington by the end of the year in a move it hopes will raise about €1bn (£849m). Hands is exploring similar options for wind farm operator Infinis and Irish gas company Phoenix.

Most significantly, he has appointed bankers to look at selling or floating Odeon, the cinema group that also hosts some of the world's glitziest, star-studded premieres in London's Leicester Square. Closer to home, he has invested £22.5m into Hand Picked Hotels, the boutique chain run by his wife, Julia.

These moves have heightened expectations that Terra Firma is about to raise a new fund, once it has returned cash to previous investors from those disposals. Hands, it seems, wants to sit on his throne once more.

This might not be possible. One UK-based investor says Terra Firma was tainted by the losses it incurred on the EMI deal.

"We wouldn't want to invest with them again," he adds. "Not after that transaction. Not only did everyone suffer huge losses but it has made us question the way he does business. He wields too much power at Terra Firma for our liking."

An industry source agreed that the 53-year-old faced a huge task convincing investors to part with their money, but believed he would do it. "Hands has a solid group of Asian backers who will continue to support him. Those followers will probably back him on a deal-to-deal basis."

In another twist to Hands's comeback, a US court last month threw out the November 2010 ruling that he had not been tricked by Citigroup into overpaying for EMI. Hands had claimed he had been misled by David Wormsley, a high-profile Citigroup banker in London, into overpaying for the business. Citigroup helped finance the deal but the allegation was rejected in a trial before US District Judge Jed Rakoff in 2010. Soon after, Citigroup took control of EMI and eventually broke up and sold the business.

There will now be a retrial. If he wins that, maybe even his fiercest detractors will welcome the return of the king.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent