He may not look like a shark, but he's one of Europe's shrewdest young dealmakers. Guy Hands, 40, has helped put the private equity industry on Europe's business map. The Oxford graduate walked out of Goldman Sachs International in 1994 and set up shop at the London offices of Japan's Nomura International PLC. Since then, he has notched up some $15 billion in deals as chief of Nomura International's Principal Finance Group. "He is one of the finest financial brains in the City," says a competitor.
Hands goes where the cookie-cutter LBO firm rarely strays. He is bidding to take over Britain's much-maligned Millennium Dome. He has become Britain's second-largest owner of pubs, controlling five different chains with 4,750 establishments. He has also made big profits buying and selling a railroad rolling-stock leasing business and William Hill, a betting-parlor chain. And he is interested in managing the real estate of the government's tax authority, the Inland Revenue Service. That is potentially a $3 billion project over 20 years.
Hands doesn't have to disclose how much he has made for Nomura International, but sources say it is more than $1.9 billion after paying the Japanese parent one-quarter point plus the LIBOR rate on its capital. A lot of his profits have come from sophisticated reconfigurations of his acquisitions' finances.
With many more players in the game, things may get tougher. But with his smarts and drive, Hands will still be a winner.