LIONEL D. ZINSOU

Former Prime Minister of Benin (2015-2016)
Mr. Zinsou has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PAI Partners, one of the largest and oldest firms focused on leveraged buyout transactions in Europe, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he had been a Managing Director at Rothschild & Cie, which he joined in 1997 and where he was Head of the Consumer Products Group, Head of Middle East and Africa and a member of the Global Investment Bank Committee. During his time at Rothschild & Cie, Mr. Zinsou advised PAI on numerous transactions, including Panzani, Amora Maille, William Saurin, Lustucru, United Biscuits, Yoplait and Vivarte.

Mr. Zinsou started his career in higher education as an assistant professor in economics at the University of Paris XIII from 1980 to 1983. He then became the Dean of the Social Sciences department at the French Ecole Normale Supérieure, one of the country’s leading universities. He followed these positions with two assignments in the French government, first as a researcher in the Research and Forecasting division of the French Ministry of Industry (1980-1984), then as a member of then Prime Minister Laurent Fabius’ cabinet (1984-1986).

In 1986, Mr. Zinsou joined BSN Gervais-Danone, the leading French food manufacturer and world leader in dairy products, as Controller. In 1988, he was promoted to Manager of the dairy division, then in 1989 to Director of Business Development. In 1992, Mr. Zinsou was named CEO of HP Foods, a UK subsidiary of Groupe Danone and in 1993 became the Head of the Pasta and Frozen Foods division for the group.

Mr. Zinsou has been Chairman of the Board of Cokoladovny, a leader in sweets and confectionery in the Czech Republic (1992-1996). He has also been on the board of the newspaper Libération since 2005.

Mr. Zinsou is a graduate of the French Ecole Normale Supérieure, and holds advanced degrees in Social Sciences and Economic History from Université de Paris IV, Université de Paris VII, the London School of Economics, and the Institut des Etudes Politiques.

Mr. Zinsou is the author of Le Fer de Lance, an essay published in 1985.