The Business On: Hugh Osmond, Founder, Horizon Acquisitions
Tuesday 14 June 2011
What do they do?
Until this week, not a lot. Horizon raised hundreds of millions of pounds in February 2010 to spend on takeovers. But it took until yesterday to announce its first deal – the $855m takeover of APR Energy, the temporary power specialist that counts the UK's Aggreko as one of its big rivals.
Why the delay?
It appears that Horizon has struggled to find suitable candidates for its original investment idea, which was to seek out underperforming British companies that might be returned to health through a process of financial restructuring. APR looks like a more straightforward bet on the energy sector – it's neither underperforming nor British.
What's Mr Osmond's track record?
Pretty impressive. He made his name in the City in the early Nineties when he and Luke Johnson launched Pizza Express on to the stock market. Then he went on to found Punch Taverns, the pubs group, and he also moved into insurance with the takeover of Pearl Group a few years back.
But does he know anything about the energy sector?
He's first and foremost an entrepreneur, but people underestimate him at their peril – he won a bitter battle with Whitbread during his early days at Punch, despite being inexperienced in that sector, and Pearl won a series of tricky encounters too when Mr Osmond was in insurance.
But he'll need some help?
Actually, his business partners at APR include some names you may be familiar with. The current owners, who'll keep a stake, include hedge fund boss George Soros and Madeleine Albright, the former US Secretary of State.
All systems go then?
So it would seem – almost 30 years after launching his first shell company, Mr Osmond's Horizon is now up and running. It could have been a very different career, though – the son of a doctor, Mr Osmond read medicine at Oxford and planned to follow his father's profession until business turned his head.
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