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Advent International extends eastern Europe focus with Prague office

Global buyout firm Advent International has opened an office in Prague headed by partner Chris Mruck, who joined the firm in 1997 after 10 years as head of the Czech office of the European

Global buyout firm Advent International has opened an office in Prague headed by partner Chris Mruck, who joined the firm in 1997 after 10 years as head of the Czech office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and having been involved in a number of Advent’s landmark central European investments.

Advent has invested in the Czech Republic and Slovakia since the mid-1990s, and with the changing dynamics in the economies of central Europe has decided to set up a regional centre in Prague to cover investment in the former Czechoslovakia as well as Hungary. Advent has other regional centres in Warsaw, covering Poland and the Baltic states, and in Bucharest, covering Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

Mruck has led or been closely involved in a number of Advent’s investments in the region, including Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, Czech fleetcard company CCS, and Brewery Holdings in Romania. The Prague team includes Michal Aron, who joined Advent in January 2006 and Milan Kulich, who joins in the summer.

Aron joined Advent from Ticketpro, a central European ticketing company where he was responsible for business development and merger and acquisition activities. He previously worked for Allianz Specialised Investments and Baring Communications Equity Emerging Europe, focusing on private equity investments in central and eastern Europe. Kulich joins from Deloitte, where he was an assistant director working on M&A and restructuring in central European unquoted companies.

Advent has been investing in central Europe since 1994 through its own offices and with local investment partners. Investments have included Terapia, Romania’s largest generic pharmaceuticals manufacturer acquired last year by Ranbaxy for USD324m, Unmas, a Turkish packaged bread producer acquired last year by Doruk, and Star Foods, Poland’s second largest snack foods producer, which was acquired by PepsiCo.

Says Mruck: ‘We have seen significant change in this region in our 13 years actively investing here. Some countries have been EU members since 2004, others only since 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania), but they all, including Turkey and Ukraine, are still changing at an enormous pace and working hard to offer an attractive investment environment for funds such as ours. It makes sense for us to reorganise our offices to be best-placed for the next phase of development of the region.’

Founded in 1984 has offices in 14 countries and more than 100 investment professionals across western and central Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. The firm, which focuses on cross-border, strategic restructuring and growth opportunities in five core sectors, has raised a total of USD10bn in private equity capital and completed more than 200 buyout and private equity transactions valued at more than USD27bn in 35 countries.

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