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Partners Group Reveals Succession Plan as Co-CEO Steps Down

The asset manager announced that private equity chief David Layton would replace Christoph Rubeli as co-chief executive officer in early 2019.

Christoph Rubeli, co-chief executive of Swiss asset manager Partners Group, will step down from the role at the end of the year, the firm announced Thursday.

Rubeli will be replaced by David Layton, the firm’s head of private equity, on January 1, 2019, according to the announcement. He will split responsibilities with André Frei, who has served as co-CEO since 2013.

“After five years as co-CEO and two decades as a partner of the firm, I believe the time is right to hand over to a successor,” Rubeli said in a statement. “David has risen through the ranks on the investment side of the business and he is ideally suited to succeed me and to share the co-CEO office with André.”

The move marks the next step of Partners Group’s broader succession plan, which the private markets manager began implementing in December 2017, according to a person familiar with the matter. At that time, nine employees were promoted, while several others joined the firm’s executive board.

The new co-CEO, Layton, will be the first executive to lead the firm from its Americas office, which is based in Denver. 

Rubeli, meanwhile, will remain at the firm as a partner, supporting the continued global build out of the firm and focusing on entrepreneurial governance at Partners Group portfolio companies, according to the statement.

Rubeli originally joined Partners Group in 1998 from UBS. During his tenure at the asset manager, Rubeli established the firm’s presence in Asia, spending several years as the head of its Singapore office, according to Thursday’s announcement. 

[II Deep Dive: Switzerland’s Partners Group Changes Its Profile, Not Its Approach]

Rubeli’s successor, Layton, has been working for Partners Group since 2005. Prior to his current role as head of private equity, Layton served as the Americas head of the asset class.

In 2016, Layton moved to Denver to establish a new regional headquarters for the Americas, according to the statement. The new campus now employs roughly 150 people.

“Back in 2016, we announced that we were building a campus out in Denver,” said Jenny Blinch, a firm spokesperson. “At that time we were sending a big signal that the United States is a big market for us. [Layton] is our first non-Swiss CEO.”

Given the new headquarters, the firm expects the transition from a CEO based in Switzerland to one based in Denver to be a seamless one, Blinch said, adding that roughly 40 percent of the firm’s investments are based in the Americas. 

“All the communications channels are established,” Blinch said. “I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact on how we do business.”

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