13 January 1969 |
England, United Kingdom
|Residence||London, England, UK|
|Alma mater||University of Western Ontario|
|Known for||Co-founding Lion Capital|
|Children||1 daughter, 1 son|
Lyndon Lea (born 13 January 1969) is an English financier and investor, known for co-founding Lion Capital which specializes in making investments in the consumer sector. Notable previous and current consumer brands owned by Lion have included Weetabix, Jimmy Choo Ltd, Wagamama, Kettle Foods and AllSaints.
Lea was born in Morecambe, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom. His mother was a hairdresser and his father was an engineer who loved travel . Lea spent his childhood growing up in South Africa, Botswana and moved at aged 13 to Canada, where he became a citizen. In 1990, after graduating in business administration from the University of Western Ontario, his career started in the mergers and acquisitions department of Goldman Sachs in New York working primarily on consumer deals. He returned to London in 1992 and, after a brief spell in the investment-banking division of Schroders, he was recruited with Neil Richardson, to start the European affiliate (Glenisla) of industry giant Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. In 1998 he was spotted by Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst and brought in to launch their new European business. At Hicks Muse he worked with consumer brands ranging from Mumm & Perrier-Jouet champagne brands to Typhoo tea and Branston Pickle. He also oversaw the flotations of Yell Group, the UK phone directories business, in 2003, and Premier Foods in 2004.
In 2004, Lea gained prominence by separating the European business he ran from its ailing American parent, Hicks Muse. Along with Robert Darwent, his Hicks Muse colleague, Lea co-founded Lion Capital and turned Lion Capital into one of the best-known firms in the investment business. Lea and Lion have invested in over 100 consumer brands in Europe and North America. The company currently employs 30 investment executives. Lea is known for his hands-on investing style and his ownership of high-profile fashion brands such as Jimmy Choo, AllSaints and John Varvatos has made him a staple of the UK and New York press. Not all of Lion's investments have been successful. Notably, La Senza, which Lea admits was one of the riskier investments for Lion, was not successful.  Lea was challenged by certain constituents of the British press for selling Weetabix to an overseas owner. In response, he stated "I’m not some kind of saviour protecting British brands. My role is to protect the integrity of my brands, and if being British is a part of their identity then that weighs into the decision." 
Lea's career has been characterised by diverse company holdings including:
- Sold Champagne Mumm & Perrier-Jouet in 2001 to Allied Domecq
- Bought Weetabix in 2004 for £640 million and sold 60% to Bright Food in 2012 in a deal valuing the company at £1.2 billion
- Acquired Jimmy Choo in 2004 for £100 million and sold the company in 2007 for £225 million
- Acquired wagamama in 2005 for £102 million and later sold the company for £215 million in 2011
- Acquired Orangina Schweppes in 2006 in partnership with the Blackstone Group and later sold the company for €2.6 billion in 2009
- Acquired Kettle Foods in 2006 for $270 million and sold the company in 2010 for $615 million
- Acquired HEMA in 2007 for a deal estimated to be worth €1.3 billion
- Acquired the Findus and Young’s brands in 2008 for £1.1 billion
- Acquired AS Adventure Group in 2008 for €263 million
- Invested $80 million in American Apparel in 2009
- Acquired Bumble Bee Foods for $980 million in 2010
- Purchased Picard in 2010 for €1.5 billion
- Acquired AllSaints in 2011
- Acquired Alain Afflelou in 2012 for €740 million
- Acquired John Varvatos Enterprises, Inc. in 2012
- Acquired ghd in 2013 for £300 million
Lea has also served on the board of several public companies including Harry Winston, American Apparel, Yell Group and Premier Foods.
In a personal capacity, Lea is an active supporter and advocate for Not For Sale, a charity that raises awareness of modern day slavery. With a personal financial commitment from Lea, Not For Sale built a children’s home in Romania that accommodates up to 100 children rescued from exploitation, providing them with safety and stability, as well as education and economic opportunities.
In August 2015, Lea married long-time girlfriend, model Sophie Dickens, whom he met at a charity polo match in 2010.
Lea is an avid polo player. His team Zacara, is named after his children. In July 2011 Zacara won the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, at Cowdray Park, West Sussex. The following April, Lea's team also won the U.S. Open Polo Championship. In 2013, Lea's team again won the U.S. Open Championships, achieving back-to-back victories. This was followed later in 2013 by an undefeated sweep of the UK season in which Lea's team won the Queen's Cup and again won the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Championship. In 2014, Zacara once again won the prestigious Cartier Queen's Cup. Lea owns a polo ranch in Santa Barbara, California where he has reportedly hosted several lavish summer parties at his Californian beach house which have included entertainment from acts such as Cirque du Soleil and beautiful women.
Lea also studies Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
- Lyndon Lea: High stress and sleepless nights for the financier who snapped up Weetabix The Independent By Damian Reece Saturday, 7 February 2004
- The Daily Telegraph. London. 7 October 2011 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/privateequity/9006176/Lion-Capitals-Lyndon-Lea-defends-his-performance.html?mobile=basic. Missing or empty
- "Lion Capital's Lyndon Lea defends his performance", The Telegraph, 10 Jan 2012. Accessed 22 Sept 2014
- "THE CITY INTERVIEW: Keeping brands British not my priority, says Lion boss Lyndon Lea", This is Money, 11 July 2012. Accessed 22 Sept 2014
- . London http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/privateequity/9242899/Chinas-Bright-Food-takes-60pc-stake-in-Weetabix.htm. Missing or empty
- "Suntory Buys Orangina From Blackstone, Lion Capital (Update3)". Bloomberg. 13 November 2009.
- "Dutch Maxeda sells Hema retail chain to Lion Capital". Reuters. 2 June 2007.
- "Lion Buys Findus-Owner FoodVest for 1 Billion Pounds (Update1)". Bloomberg. 22 July 2008.
- "Lion Capital Agrees to Buy Picard From BC Partners". Bloomberg. 26 July 2010.
- Lyndon Lea's Zacara win the US Open. Polo Times. 23 April 2012.
- "Lyndon Lea's Zacara Wins Back-to-Back US Open Championships". Polistas.
- Davies, Gareth A (11 July 2014). "Dubai end Zacara's 22-match winning streak as polo's 2014 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup hots up". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- "Facundo Pieres Shines, Zacara wins Queen's Cup". Polo Blogs.
- Wild Lion FT.com