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Private Equity executive David Jones joins Better Place

Charging in: Better Place Australia executive director David Jones (right) and chief executive Evan Thornley with a Nissan Leaf EV.

EV infrastructure provider Better Place Australia appoints executive director

General News logo26 Sep 2011

ELECTRIC vehicle infrastructure provider Better Place Australia has appointed experienced private equity manager David Jones as executive director.

To also serve as a board member, Mr Jones joins Better Place after nine years as managing director of CHAMP Private Equity and 17 years in the private equity industry.

Prior to CHAMP, Mr Jones worked as the Australian chief for UBS Capital (1999-2002), having started in the industry with Macquarie Bank’s private equity group in 1994. He also spent four years with Macquarie Direct Investment in Sydney and a year at BancBoston Capital in Boston.

He started his career as a consultant for global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, for whom Better Place Australia chief executive Evan Thornley also previously worked as a consultant.

In a statement, Better Place described Mr Jones as “one of the nation’s most respected private equity executives and growth-company investors” and said his appointment comes as the company moves out of “start-up phase” and prepares for “rapid scaling and growth”.

Mr Thornley said Mr Jones has “a long pedigree of identifying the most high-value opportunities in the country and working to achieve their greatest potential”.

“As Better Place moves from planning to deployment and scaling on an accelerated timeline, David’s breadth of experience from CHAMP and prior investee companies like Austar will be invaluable,” he said.

“We have known and respected the CHAMP organisation for a long time, and we are delighted that David has chosen to join Better Place as the next logical step in his career focused on profit with a purpose.”

Mr Jones said his experience at CHAMP reinforced to him “the value of working for an organisation you believe in” – and as such said he was “delighted” to be joining Better Place.

“The appeal of Better Place is that the business model is as compelling as the purpose behind it,” he said. “It is exhilarating to be able to contribute to one of the most significant economic transformations via the leading global company in this vital sector.”

Meanwhile, CHAMP executive chairman Bill Ferris noted that the private equity firm had worked with Mr Thornley on a number of ventures, including LookSmart and the acquisition of ABC Learning (now GoodStart).

LookSmart is the internet search advertising company Mr Thornley founded before entering Victorian politics in 2002, serving as parliamentary secretary to the premier before quitting politics to join Better Place in early 2009.

Mr Ferris also paid tribute to Mr Jones, saying: “David has made a significant contribution not only to CHAMP but also to the wider private equity industry, particularly during his recent chairmanship of AVCAL,” he said. Mr Jones served as chairman of the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCAL) in 2007.

As GoAuto has reported, Better Place Australia is preparing Australia’s first EV network rollout – including a battery-swap station – in Canberra next year.

The Silicon Valley-based company’s Australian subsidiary has also partnered with Renault Australia to bring the all-electric Fluence ZE to Australia next year, and recently announced with GE – the parent company of Australia’s largest fleet vehicle buyer Custom Fleet – the purchase of at least 1000 EVs for their fleet by 2015.

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