Interview: Richard Mayers, MML
“MML’s relationship with Clearwater goes back many years and is a key one for us. I would describe it as a very balanced relationship in that we both fully understand the value of reciprocation. Clearwater definitely punches above its weight in terms of the number of deals we give it, but we are happy with that! Our relationship with Clearwater is one of the strongest of any adviser, we really like working with you.
“We only see this relationship growing. There has been a big step-up in the size of our investments in recent years, and likewise we definitely see Clearwater stepping up in size in terms of where its sweet spot is too. We have also used Clearwater’s range of services such as debt advisory on a number of occasions and will continue to do so.”
“Over the last two years Clearwater has sold two businesses for us, while it also introduced me to training provider Learning Curve which will hopefully prove to be an excellent deal. One of the keys for us is that we have a differentiated way of investing compared to mainstream private equity and deliberately choose to work with more boutique houses who understand the way we operate.
“Few of our deals are “vanilla” processes, we look for opportunities where we can work with management to shape a transaction. Learning Curve is a great example of what we do and what Clearwater do so well. Clearwater had flagged the business to us and introduced us to a great off-market opportunity.”
“Learning Curve was also a great example of how well connected Clearwater is, which is extremely useful for a lot of PE houses. I for instance don’t have a deal origination or research team to fall back on so when I get introduced to an opportunity where there is a real angle for us then that connection is absolutely invaluable.
“I regard what Clearwater do for us as effectively an outsourced deal origination team. With Learning Curve getting in there early proved absolutely invaluable.
“The fact that Clearwater do so many deals with so many different private equity providers also gives it a great insight into the market and is very useful, particularly on the sell-side.
“Using such a range of providers tells me that Clearwater is sharing opportunities around which is a good thing. What I like is that when there is an opportunity that fits a specific PE house it will make the call to that particular house. As such it is doing what is right for the PE house and what is right for the management team.”
“With the two sales I have talked about, in both instances Clearwater was chosen for the strength of our relationship. The sale of accountancy services provider Optionis was a challenging deal which required both technical knowledge from Clearwater and the input of partners who had sufficient gravitas in the market to pull off the deal.
“It might sound obvious but the adviser needs to be knowledgeable of their industry. It is so disappointing when you are presented with an opportunity in a sector where you challenge the adviser and they can be found wanting. That certainly isn’t the case with Clearwater.”