Guy Hands

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Guy Hands
Born (1959-08-27) 27 August 1959 (age 57)
London, UK
Nationality United Kingdom
Education Mansfield College, Oxford
The Judd School
Occupation Private equity investor
Employer Terra Firma (2002- )
Nomura Securities (1994-2002)
Goldman Sachs (1982-1994)
Known for Founder of Terra Firma Capital Partners, Founder of Nomura Principal Finance Group

Guy Hands (born 27 August 1959)[1] is an English financier and investor. He is most notable as the founder and chairman of Terra Firma Capital Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in Europe. Hands also previously served as Chairman of the UK music company, EMI.

Hands is well known for his frequently outspoken comments about the private equity industry.[2][3] In April 2009 he moved from the UK to the tax haven Guernsey where Terra Firma is based.


Guy Hands was born in London to South African parents.[1] He was educated at Holy Trinity School, Cookham, where he was diagnosed as severely dyslexic.[1] Subsequently, he was sent to Ravenscroft Preparatory School, a special needs school, aged 9 and The Judd School, Tonbridge.[4] More recently, Hands contributed the funds for the construction of the Guy Hands Library at the Judd School. In a Ravenscroft production of Macbeth in 1970, he played the part of Lady Macbeth opposite Christopher Newbury as Macbeth.[4]

Hands studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Mansfield College, Oxford,.[5] At Oxford, Hands held the office of Bursar of the Oxford Union and was also President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in Michaelmas Term 1980.[4] Hands later provided funding for construction of the Hands Building at Mansfield College.[6]

Early career[edit]

Hands started his career in 1982 as a eurobond trader at Goldman Sachs. He was appointed Head of Eurobond trading in 1986 and later rose to become head of global asset structuring world-wide for Goldman's European division in 1990.[1] In 1994, Hands left Goldman to found Nomura's Principal Finance Group, which focused on European private equity investments. Hands joined Nomura after three other banks, including Goldman, turned down his investment plan.[7] At Nomura, Hands and his team completed over $20 billion of leveraged buyouts. By 2000, Hands was reported to have generated profits for the bank in excess of $1.9 billion making him a star financier in London.[8][9][10] Hands' most notable acquisitions at Nomura included Annington Homes, as well as William Hill, the bookmaker, and Angel Trains, the UK rolling stock operating company.[11] As well, Hands effectively became the UK's biggest pub landlord through a series of acquisitions in the 1990s.[4]

Terra Firma[edit]

In 2002, Hands founded Terra Firma Capital Partners, as a spinout from Nomura, which he had built into one of the largest private equity investors in Europe.[12][13] Terra Firma debuted with a €2 billion private equity fund, immediately making it one of the larger private equity investors in Europe.[14]

The firm's early investments, while still a division of Nomura, focused on housing (Annington Homes), leasing companies and pubs. Since 2002, the firm has made major investments in the waste management (Waste Recycling Group), energy (BGCL, East Surrey Holdings, Phoenix Natural Gas, aircraft leasing (AWAS), cinema (Odeon Cinemas/UCI) and music sectors (EMI). TFCP has also made significant investments in German residential housing (Deutsche Annington) and motorway services (Tank & Rast).

Terra Firma is now also one of the world’s leading private equity investors in renewable energy.[15][16] Its investments include the UK-based green energy business (Infinis), a US wind energy business (EverPower) and an Italian solar energy business (RTR).

Hands and Terra Firma are also known for the failed investment in British music company EMI, which was later taken over by Citigroup, the main lender in the investment.[17] Citigroup took ownership of EMI Group from Terra Firma on 1 February 2011, wiping out the firm's investments and writing off £2.2 billion of debt.[18][19] Despite implementing an operational turnaround,[20][21] Terra Firma was reported to have lost $2.5 billion in the EMI transaction, representing roughly one-third of Terra Firma's investor's capital as well as more than 60% of Hands' personal net worth.[22][23] Hands had spent much of 2010 engaged in litigation with Citigroup, claiming the bank engaged in fraud during its auction of EMI in 2007.[24] The lawsuit went to trial in New York in late 2010[25] and resulted in a jury finding in favor of Citigroup. This verdict was however overturned in May 2013, after a US federal appeals court found that the American trial judge, Jed Rakoff, had incorrectly instructed the jury on a point of English law.[26]

A new, judge-led trial was heard by Mr Justice Burton in London in June 2016. After two days of evidence, during which Mr Hands admitted on more than one occasion that he didn't have 'that memory anymore', lawyers for Terra Firma withdrew the case with all costs to be borne by Terra Firma. Burton said: “I’m sure this is the right result.” Citi said: "We have always maintained that the allegations made by Terra Firma were entirely baseless." Hands said the claims had been brought in good faith, but that documentation and memories of these events after nine years was no longer sufficient to meet the high demands of proof required, and that the matter is now closed.[27][28]

Personal life[edit]

Hands started an art business before going to University. Once at Oxford it became known as ‘Artsake’ and employed a large number of Hands’ fellow students. While at university, he became friends with William Hague, who was later best man at his wedding, in 1984, to Julia Caroline Ablethorpe.[1] The couple have two sons and two daughters.[1] His wife's house in Kent, just outside Sevenoaks, was once presented to Winston Churchill, while his family's estate in Tuscany, Villa Saletta, produces wine and olive oil.[1] The estate’s wines have won several awards.[29][30]

Hands and his wife own the Hand Picked Hotels chain of 17 country-house properties, which is run by Julia Hands.

Hands is a dedicated wine collector, and is a customer of Octavian Vaults for storage.[31]

In April 2009, in protest at the UK tax system, Hands moved to the tax haven of Guernsey. Since then, he has not been to the UK and his family travel to Guernsey to see him.[32] The writer Malcolm Gladwell called the move to Guernsey an “incredibly interesting pathology”, seeing exile from the UK as a significant reverse in the benefits of being immensely wealthy.[33]


The Hands family support a number of charities including the Princes' Trust, King's College Cambridge, Duke of Edinburgh Awards,[34] The Kid’s Company, The Eve Appeal, Hospice in the Weald, ICAN, and Outward Bound.[35]

They have also been significant supporters of Mansfield College, Oxford. In recognition of their significant contributions, Mansfield hosts an annual Hands Lecture series, whose speakers have included Lord Mandelson, David Boies and Bob Geldof.[36] In 2014 the Hands family pledged £2 million towards the construction of Mansfield’s new Love Lane Building, which will house the University’s new Institute of Human Rights.[37][38]

Honours and appointments[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wray, Richard (18 January 2008). "'Profile: Guy Hands'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  2. ^ Guy Hands: 'the days of speculation and quick returns must end' Daily Telegraph online. 13 November 2011
  3. ^ Private equity is being forced to face new reality. City A.M. 9 December 2011
  4. ^ a b c d Kennedy, Siobhan, Business big shot: Guy Hands dated 30 July 2007, online at
  5. ^ Guy Hands Profile. Terra Firma Capital Partners website
  6. ^ "Building For The Future" (PDF). Mansfield College Oxford. 
  7. ^ Hands edges toward Nomura exit door. 7 May 2001
  8. ^ Guy Hands. Financial News, 14 June 2000
  9. ^ The Man Who Loves Disasters. Business Week, 5 June 2000
  10. ^ Nomura's guy hands: Dealmaker extraordinaire. Global Finance, November 2001
  11. ^ UK Terra Firma to seal debut deal. AltAssets, 9 Jun 2003
  12. ^ Hands seen dropping plans for major bank role in new fund. AltAssets, 30 July 2001
  13. ^ COWELL, ALAN. "World Business Briefing | Europe: Britain: Nomura Investor To Open Fund." New York Times, 10 November 2001
  14. ^ Guy Hands’ Terra Firma holds first close on debut independent fund. AltAssets, 1 November 2002
  15. ^ Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report. Bloomberg, 2011
  16. ^ Bloomberg New Energy Finance Names Top Clean Energy Investors., 2010
  17. ^ Joshua R. Wueller, Mergers of Majors: Applying the Failing Firm Doctrine in the Recorded Music Industry, 7 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L. 589, 597–604 (2013) (describing Terra Firma's purchase of EMI, Citigroup's seizure of the company, and the subsequent breakup, sale, and antitrust scrutiny surrounding the music company).
  18. ^ Citigroup wrestles EMI from Guy Hands' grasp, The Guardian 1 February 2011
  19. ^ "EMI announces successful capital restructuring, and change of ownership". EMI Music. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-16. 
  20. ^ Give Guy credit for EMI's Brits success. London Evening Standard. 18 February 2011
  21. ^ EMI Annual review 2009/2010. EMI Music 2009/2010
  22. ^ Guy Hands on life after EMI. Business Monitor, 10 March 2011
  23. ^ Guy Hands Offers EMI Post-Mortem. New York Times, 22 February 2011
  24. ^ Suit Accuses Citigroup of Fraud in EMI Deal. New York Times, 12 December 2009
  25. ^ Financier And Banker To Face Off On EMI Sale. New York Times, 14 October 2010
  26. ^ Membership, FT. "Fast FT". Retrieved 2016-05-23. 
  27. ^ "Guy Hands drops Citigroup EMI lawsuit". BBC Business News. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  28. ^ "Guy Hands abandons £1.5bn fraud claim against Citigroup". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  29. ^ Wine Details: Borgo Saletta - IGT Rosso Toscana 2006. International Wine and Spirit Competition 2006
  30. ^ Saletta wine description. Villa Saletta website
  31. ^
  32. ^ Finch, Julia (7 February 2010). "I save tax by never visiting my family, says tycoon Guy Hands". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  33. ^ Foley, Stephen (19 September 2014) Running with the FT: Malcolm Gladwell
  34. ^ DofE Supporters. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
  35. ^ "Trustees' Report and Financial Statements" (PDF). 
  36. ^ "City Diary: Guy Hands showed a degree of enterprise in his Oxford years". Retrieved 2016-05-16. 
  37. ^ Dusted. "Guy Hands' View". Retrieved 2016-05-16. 
  38. ^ "Mansfield College, Oxford: Love Lane Campaign: Building for the future". Retrieved 2016-05-16. 

External links[edit]