Interview: Matt Lyons, Vespa Capital
“We find working with Clearwater an exceptionally good experience because the business combines three main elements. Firstly, it has sufficient volume in the private equity market. Secondly, the sectors it focuses on means it has a proper insight into what is the market norm and what is reasonable. And thirdly, the firm successfully maintains the feel and impact of a more boutique and bespoke service offering.
“Clearwater also understands that their role is not only about serving their clients but also about getting the deal done. That means looking at pricing structures in a way that ensures you can broker a successful transaction.”
“We have known Clearwater ever since we were founded in 2008, and began working much closer together a few years ago when we started looking at particular transactions. It is only when you work on a deal that you see each other’s capabilities and that relationship becomes real.
“When you hear marketing pitches they often sound very similar. But the differentiator is in the delivery. Does the adviser deliver on what they said they would do? Clearwater always does.
“It is also about building up trust because that trust always gets tested in a deal. No matter how smooth you think a deal is going to be there is always something that pops up. It’s how you deal with those issues that matters. Our experience is that Clearwater has been very good at reacting to those individual issues and dealing with them in an entirely appropriate way.”
“There are two elements to sector expertise. There is not just the merit of having strong knowledge of sectors per se, but what is also important is having a specific understanding of private equity firms and what they are seeking to achieve.
“Although a lot of private equity firms may look and sound the same, there are often significant differences between them and it is important to understand those differences.
“Clearwater has the benefit of doing enough deal volume through all its different sector teams such that it has a more intimate understanding of private equity processes than many other corporate finance houses. Others will talk a good game but the reality is that if they are not sufficiently plugged in they will not have that specific understanding. Clearwater can cut through the issues much quicker and form a view on how processes are likely to unfold.”
Understanding owner managers
“Another element of Clearwater’s offering that has been very important to us has been its understanding of what actually makes owner managers tick. In looking for shareholder solutions Clearwater understands how these can come in a variety of guises. This means that they can give good advice to shareholders and allows them to talk with confidence about what the options are, and what are the benefits of each.”
“We have a lot of confidence in Clearwater’s international coverage. For instance we know the team in France well, and also know how highly rated that French team is too. What is very clear is that Clearwater has been very careful in building out its international operations with like-minded people.
“We also plan to increasingly use Clearwater’s other range of services such as its very capable debt advisory team which, because of the volume it handles, is able to process debt deals very efficiently and provide a bespoke service delivery.”