Industry Moves: Hands Steps Down As Terra Firma CEO; Will It Pacify Investors?

Guy Hands is giving up daily operations of private equity firm Terra Firma, owner of EMI, moving to group chairman and chief investment officer after seven years as chairman and CEO. Terra Firma founding partner Tim Pryce steps in as new CEO. The PR version: “This will enable Guy Hands to focus on Terra Firma’s investments, investors and the strategic development of its business internationally.” The not-so-PR version: Terra Firma needs to shore up its portfolio after writing down half of its EMI investment — $1.36 billion — as part of a $1.71 billion charge for 2008, roughly one-third of its asset value.

FT quotes one adviser to private equity investors, who said the move could help Hands convince investors he is taking their concerns about poor short-term performance seriously: “This is a smart gesture. It is highly visible, yet is relatively meaningless. … Terra Firma is still very much Guy