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The Dealmaker  By  cover art

The Dealmaker

By: Guy Hands
Narrated by: Simon Shepherd,Guy Hands - introduction
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

An inside account of the multibillion-pound world of private equity and a masterclass on the art of deal-making. 

The Dealmaker is a frank and honest account of how a severely dyslexic child who struggled at school went on to graduate from Oxford and become a serial entrepreneur. 

It describes Guy Hand's career in private equity, first at Nomura and then as head of his own company, Terra Firma. It looks in detail at the huge deals that Terra Firma has done over the years, involving everything from cinema chains and pubs to waste management, aircraft leasing and green energy. And it offers a brutally honest appraisal of the one deal that turned sour - the acquisition of multinational music recording and publishing company EMI in 2007, just as a global financial crash loomed on the horizon. Above all, it takes the listener inside the previously very secretive world of private equity, explaining how this multibillion-pound sector operates and providing audio portraits of some of the larger-than-life figures who people it. 

Both insightful and engaging, it will prove inspirational and essential listening for all those concerned with or interested in the world of investment.

©2021 Guy Hands (P)2021 Penguin Audio

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honest memoir from the belly of private equity

Guy Hands offers a frank and incisive account of his life in finance, mostly in private equity. An unvarnished take, which also offers a broad anatomy of the sub-field

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  • Steve
  • 11-11-21

Comes across as a bit of a T****r

This bloke is so far removed from normal people, it’s a joke. It’s all about him, selfish callous and self righteous and obviously doesn’t give a damn about anyone else. Unbearable to listen to. He needs to redo this book, touch on how he helped people, positive outcomes for all involved. Shocking story.

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  • papapownall
  • 11-10-21

Making the under toad disappear

In business, no one is as good as they think they are. And this is the main message of this memoir by former Terra Firma supremo Guy Hands. Born in South Africa and emigrating to England at the age of three, the young Hands was not short of confidence describing himself as "the most brilliant student his teacher had ever known" at the age of five and master of the school chess club. Dyslexia was to thwart his academic achievements and he had to literately blag his way into Oxford despite not having the grades to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics whilst rubbing shoulders with WIlliam Hague and the "stylish" Theresa May at the Oxford Student Conservative Society. Gaining an early interest in business as a door to door salesman (encyclopedias, double glazing and art) the natural progression was for Hands to enter the world of investment banking first at Goldman Sachs and then at Nomura where his reputation for a deal maker was founded with investments in Phoenix Pubs which reached 8,500 outlets, bookmaker WIlliam Hill and Angel Trains.
The natural progression was for Hands to form his own Private Equity fund with a spin off from Nomura and with his track record was able to raise funds to undertake adventurous investments including Odeon Cinemas.
Hands could seemingly do no wrong. Until, that is, he broke two of his own rules as making sure that he did not invest more than 10% of his fund in any one company and that he did not invest across funds. It may have been his love for popular music (each chapter in this book is prefaced by song lyrics) but "the dog" of EMI was to prove his downfall. Letting his emotions rule his thinking the lure of owning the best music catalog in the world was too much. Artists including the Rolling Stones and the surviving Beatles resented Hands involvement and the investment soon turned sour resulting in over seven years of litigation with Citigroup who provided debt finance for the deal. Further disappointing investments in Four Seasons Care Homes and Wyevale Garden Centres and poor returns to investors meant that Terra Firma were never to raise another blind pool fund again and Hands was restricted to investing from his own funds in more modest assets. Dismayed by Brexit but not minded to go into politics he decided to start Engage Britain which is a forum to encourage national participation in debate. The world according to Guy Hands is certainly eventful and the protagonist come over as more than your standard insecure overachiever. If only the EMI under toad had not raised its ugly head, then maybe Guy Hands' Terra Firma would have been as successful as Blackstone or Carlyle.

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  • Tom Williams
  • 11-08-22

Money isn’t a guarantee of happiness

- Quality of audio recording is quite poor. Multiple times throughout you can clearly tell where they have re-recorded a sentence or added words sometimes with what sounds a different narrator.
- Story itself is an interesting listen. After years of following Guy Hands’ business dealings with a sense of admiration, hearing the behind the scenes story does take the shine off somewhat.

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  • rotercracker
  • 09-05-22

'Seat Belts On.' Get Ready for the Ride

If you intend to read this book solely as a textbook for deal making, you will miss the bigger picture. This is an autobiography of an exceptional individual who, even after all the trappings of success, still appears to be seeking answers. I hope he finds them.
I’ve always been wary of autobiographies: either those sequencing the format of a tough childhood, morphing into success, which spawns a litany of celebrity name-dropping mixed with a series of random anecdotes, or those where the author’s desire, either intentionally or because it’s human nature, is to apply a gloss to the facts to the point of fictionalising their reality. Whilst Mr Hands may well have applied a little blusher to his story where it suited, the overall impact of the narrative comprises brutal honesty, offers praise and criticism of his actions in equal measure and analyses decision-making in a clear and incisive fashion.
I lived through various emotions throughout his journey: fascination with his development during the formative years, admiration and excitement as he progressed through Goldman Sachs and Nomura – how stimulating to be a part of a team applying and adhering to a formula built around a strict set of maxims and rules – only to suffer disillusion, frustration and, even anger as we reach the turning point in his story.
As a pinstripe in the world of pop and rock in the 70s, I am familiar with the outcome of the EMI debacle, yet I found myself shouting at the pages, imploring him not to make the bid and override all those controls he had so meticulously put in place which had served him so well. There are two elements of the due diligence process I still don’t understand. Surely, if you’re being bulldozered into a deal, the suspicion must be the crap has been brushed under the carpet in the darkest room where the lightbulb is broken? And if, as Mr Hands says, people are the key to any private equity deal, it is inconceivable he did not see at the outset that trying to impose pinstripe governance, budgetary controls and financial disciplines on profligacy, Peter Pan personalities and the excuse of creative necessity to justify excess in all forms is like trying to mix oil and water. I can only conclude that having failed with two auction bids, he was determined not to lose another, and this driving force outweighed all other considerations.
The post EMI period of the narrative, moving forward to the recent past is somewhat akin to the progression of Mr Hand’s favourite football team, Manchester United. If you equate the end of the EMI saga to Sir Alex’s departure, you have an organisation with money and talented individuals, some successes and disappointments, a loyal fan base anxious to repeat past glories and a series of would-be leaders who fall by the wayside as the years pass. The one difference is whereas United appear to be rudderless, Mr Hands has a bullet list of ambitious personal goals yet to achieve – hopefully, not another oil and water combination.
My only disappointment was not to gain a better understanding of Mr Hand’s relationship with his family during the years of his obsession with business. Apart from his sincere dedication, the appearance of Julia and the children in the narrative is so matter of fact as to represent them as two-dimensional characters. They appear at seasonal gatherings and on expensive, exotic holidays in places where there is no mobile phone signal – though I suspect Mr Hands had a satellite phone tucked away in his knapsack. The one extract I found disturbing was when Mr Hands described having to invest sixty million of his money in Julia’s ailing business during the Covid crisis. Surely, it’s ‘our money’ in a marriage partnership or does Mr Hands really think in those terms?
I may exist in a different universe to Mr Hands, but I found his story intriguing, well-written and captivating. It will resonate with me for years to come.

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  • Book Reviewer
  • 07-25-22

Interesting insight into a flawed individual

Most people buying this book probably did so on the basis of his business success and wealth but this is a great insight into the flaws (yes flawed) characteristics needed to accumulate such wealth. Very honest and in the end I don’t envy the life he has lived. A great listen and well performed

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  • J. Hughes
  • 06-03-22

Interesting, but not inspiring.

I revered Guy, knew of him, knew of his works. It’s amazing motivation of a man clearly motivated to make something great, no matter the cost. Very interesting biographical story.

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  • enzo
  • 05-12-22

Honest and brave, An inspiring recollection.

This is a brave book, where humility and pride are well balanced. It will inspire people with challenging childhoods and or learning challenges but also remind all readers that universal characteristics such as hard work, discipline, determination and ambition are a pre-requisite for any significant achievement. Simon Shepard's narration is also first class..

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  • Kevine
  • 01-16-22

Mind Blowing

Extremely helpful and motivational life experiences. Very compelling. Motivates me to go do deals.

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  • GingerGeneral
  • 11-26-21

Interesting but disappointing

at times it felt this audiobook was Guy Hands editing the history books and feels a little indulgent on his part.

There are some interesting insights, but at times it was long winded. I'm pleased I had in an audiobook. I would not have bothered finishing it as a book.

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  • lobster501
  • 11-23-21

Content OK, Narration Poor

Content was OK, but the narration and editing were disappointing. Words and phrases clearly edited in after the initial recording, seemingly by a different (possibly digital) voice. Narrator uninspiring and incorrect pronunciation of basic business terms - Capex (capital expenditure) read as Kay-pex rather than Cap-ex. Overall, a disappointing ‘read’.

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  • John
  • 07-23-22

Excellent insight to mega deals and life

excellent insight into mega business deals, and a decade of work to realise what's important. brilliant book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-22

interesting read, deeply flawed author

Well written and well read account of a range of interesting deals, however I couldn't help but be unsettled by the authors apparent ambivalence to his wife, children and employees, sacrificing all in pursuit of financial gain.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-25-22

Great book.

Great book, I couldn't stop listening. Whether you are a finance person or not this was most interesting.