Cognetas calls in Smithfield

An offshoot of private equity giant Electra Partners has brought in Smithfield to help it revamp its image.

Cognetas has ended its relationship with Corfin Communications and brought in a Smithfield team headed by director Lucinda Kemeny.

Kemeny, who joined Smithfield a year ago from a stint as mergers & acquisitions editor on the Mail on Sunday, knew Cognetas managing partner Nigel McConnell from her former role.

'This is part of a programme to raise our profile following a change of name from Electron Partners Europe,' said McConnell.

Kemeny said her work would focus around corporate profile raising.

Cognetas owns or has a stake in a number of high-profile companies such as Novus, owner of the Tiger Tiger bar chain, and Italian vending machine company Gruppo Argenta.

But one of its portfolio, overseas tour operator Travelsphere, looks likely to be sold for a loss.

Reports suggest the firm is looking to sell Travelsphere for around £100m, having backed a £144m management buyout of the business in 2005.

Travelsphere has been hit by the worsening economic environment as customers cut back on spending. Profits are thought to have fallen to about £9m in 2007 from £15m the previous year.

Last week Cognetas and fellow UK-based private equity firm Englefield Capital jointly acquired Morrison Utility Services for £135m.

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