On 22nd February 2012, The Up Group hosted a breakfast networking event for executives experienced in working for Private Equity backed businesses. The session was designed, amongst other things, to offer an insight into the transition from Executive to Non Executive, “plural” life. Thus, a mixture of PE experienced Chief Executives, Chief Financial Officers, Chairmen and Non-Executive Directors were invited to ensure that the session offered a variety of opinion and debate.
The morning was chaired by Richard Segal, who has a wealth of experience, having worked in a number of different situations and roles across the private equity landscape (including Chief Executive of Odeon, backed by Cinven; Executive and later Non-Executive Chairman of Esporta, owned by Societe Generale; currently Chairman of Hellman & Friedman-sponsored Web Reservations International; and also a spell as a Partner within 3i’s Quoted Private Equity division).
The schedule covered several interesting topics, including:
The role of a Chairman within a PE-backed business – a ‘buffer’ between PE house and management? Likewise, the ‘translator’ of good and bad news, managing expectations and making sure both sets of people are aligned? Either way, it was agreed that a Chairman needs to bring a track record of value creation, know-how to manage people and have deep sector experience, preferably in a variety of market conditions.
Operating Partner model – variety of roles / involvement? Suitability during different market conditions? Value added? A range of interactions and experiences were discussed, with the conclusion that the Operating Partner model can become quite a useful advantage to funds, if handled correctly.
Deal flow - The unpredictability and lack of clarity around deal flow provoked a lot of debate. Given the uncertainty of consumer markets and the increasingly central role that the banks are playing in deal negotiations, the underlying feeling amongst our group was one of frustration.
Thanks to all who attended the lively and interesting discussion!