Milan’s new members club hoping to attract the rich fleeing London

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One big thing to start: Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party is heading for a huge majority in the UK general election, sending Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives crashing out of office after 14 years. Follow live here.

In today’s newsletter:

  • Milan embraces members club

  • SoftBank rejects Elliott’s calls

  • New Mountain goes for mid-sized deals

Milan readies to welcome finance bros

The announcement of Soho House’s opening in Milan in 2026 received a lot of media attention last month, but the renovation of the palazzo on the central San Babila square is still two years away.

London-based private equity firm Three Hills Capital Partners, instead, has been quietly working for two years to open the doors of a new private members club, called The Wilde, as early as the autumn.

The private equity firm, which is a backer of famed upscale Italian restaurant Sant Ambroeus and was an investor in UK burger chain Byron, bought the former Milanese residence of Santo Versace (of the fashion house family) — known as Villa del Platano — for a reported €33mn in 2022 and is now about to complete its renovation.

The business case, people close to the firm said, was an obvious one, with the influx of expats and wealthy individuals Milan in recent years thanks to Italy’s generous tax break schemes.

They might benefit in particular from the fact that a growing number of wealthy people are planning to leave the UK in response to the abolition of the “non-dom” tax regime — a policy backed by the Conservatives and Labour.

Casa Cipriani pioneered the modern concept of private members’ clubs in the city and it has been one of the most popular social venues, for fashionistas and bankers alike since opening nearly two years ago. The Wilde hopes to target personalities from across the creative industries, rather than Three Hills founder Mauro Moretti’s private equity colleagues.

But should there be a new influx of expats after the UK election, the membership team might have a change of heart.

SoftBank not planning to embrace Elliott calls

When your chief executive and founder owns about a third of the shares, it’s a little easier to ignore activists.

And when that CEO is Masayoshi Son and he is intent on spending money to usher in an era of artificial super intelligence — and thus provide the answer to humanity’s problems or portend its doom — it’s perhaps easier again.

That is certainly the attitude of SoftBank’s chief financial officer, Yoshimitsu Goto, who told the FT in Tokyo that the group does not plan on an immediate share buyback despite pressure from hedge fund Elliott Management to launch a $15bn programme as soon as possible.

“We believe this is a time when new investment activity should be taking place that will be the basis for the future growth of SoftBank Group,” said Goto, while pointedly declining to comment on any specific exchanges the company had with the hedge fund.

Elliott, which recently rebuilt a roughly $2bn stake, will hope that attitude changes and SoftBank decides to use some of its balance sheet strength to funnel money back to shareholders.

However, at SoftBank’s annual meeting last month, Son said the group’s past investments — which included some disastrously large bets on start-ups such as WeWork — were just a “warm up” for its next stage in AI, and described share buybacks as “small stuff”.

So Elliott might simply have to wait for Son to get what he considers the big stuff out of the way first.

The dealmaker in ‘Barbarians’ now chases mid-sized coups

Steven Klinsky had a front-row seat to the most operatic takeover drama Wall Street has ever seen, the knives-out multibillion-dollar battle for control of RJR Nabisco.

As a partner in his early 30s at Forstmann Little, Klinsky was a trusted number-cruncher to founder Ted Forstmann as the prolific financier studied a bid for RJR to counter a KKR-led takeover move. He even had a memorable role in the saga, chronicled in the classic book, Barbarians at the Gate.

But when he left Forstmann Little in 1999 to create his own private equity outfit, New York-based New Mountain Capital, Klinsky decided on a different approach.

He focused on smaller deals using less leverage than the headline-grabbing leveraged buyouts that captured the public’s imagination in the go-go 1980s.

“I preach against the old private equity model of 40 years ago where people think you borrow as much as you can, go play golf, and see if it all worked out in five years,” Klinsky said in an interview with DD’s Antoine Gara.

New Mountain has risen from managing just a few billion dollars after the 2008 financial crisis to a fast-growing challenger in the PE industry with $55bn in assets under management.

That includes $15.4bn raised for its seventh buyout fund, beating a $12bn target in a bad market. A number of large windfalls earned between 2020 and 2024 aided the fundraising.

For more on the firm’s founder and its investment approach, read the FT’s weekend profile of Klinsky.

Job moves

  • InterContinental Hotels said Daniela Barone Soares is stepping down from its board at year-end to focus on other commitments.

  • JPMorgan has hired Douglas Melsheimer as a managing director within the bank’s technology investment banking group, according to Bloomberg. He joins from Barclays, where he was also a managing director in technology investment banking.

Smart reads

Risk transfer Regulators are fuelling the rise of the asset manager lender, as they tighten standards on capital requirements and risk-weighted assets. The consequences are not yet known, writes Lex.

Rent default Apartments are set to be the next real estate business to struggle in the US, as rating agencies and research firms worry many more loans could become distressed, the New York Times reports.

Deep discounts Faced with the explosive growth of Shein and Temu, Amazon should resist joining the pair in a race to the bottom and instead let challengers flame out in an attempt for market share, writes Lex.

News round-up

Activist investor Cevian takes stake in Smith & Nephew (FT)

Vodafone needs a stronger signal on UK telecom failings (Lex)

Read the full article here

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