Dario, a Californian with a 20-year presence in CEE, was a partner of CORE, the sister firm of LF from 2004-2009. Under his leadership, CORE become one of the leading advisory firms in Poland/CEE to Italian companies entering the Polish/CEE market.
Dario and Alex worked closely together on a number of client mandates, including bringing Italian toll-road giant Atlantia/Autostrade SpA to Poland through the acquisition of a majority stake in Stalexport in 2006 (which owns the concession for the A4 motorway between Krakow and Katowice), selling that company’s steel business on behalf of Atlantia, and later working with RBS to finance the EUR 1.3bn 93km motorway from Warsaw to Lodz in a PPP model.
Since then, Dario has gone on to create and manage a renewable energy fund in Italy, and is currently the Senior Investment Director at CEE Equity, advisor to the Luxembourg based China CEE Cooperation Investment funds, investing in a wide array of industries amongst which infrastructure, energy, specialized manufacturing, and telecoms transactions throughout 16 CEE CEE countries.
Tom, an Englishman with Polish roots, had a varied career in upstream oil & gas in the UK, US and North Africa, before a change of direction led him into the financial sector. He became head of structured finance for WestLB Poland in the 1990s, where he was involved in a number of ground-breaking transactions.
He joined LF in 2007, focusing on deals in the energy, telecoms and infrastructure sectors, including a EUR 490m financing structured for PLAY in 2008 (‘The Polish Mobile Job’), and advising Atlantia/Autostrade SpA and its Polish affiliate Stalexport on the motorway financing for the A2 Warsaw-Lodz (‘The Italian (Road) Job’), alongside RBS.
Tom was the head of our debt advisory practice, but when exploration for shale gas kicked off in Poland, this geologist-turned-banker could not resist the call, becoming Country Manager of Talisman Poland in 2010. Subsequently, Tom was transferred to Scotland to run a major North Sea oil field and terminal operation for Talisman and its successor JV. He held that job between 2013 and 2018.
Tom is considering new opportunities and may provide senior expertise on select teams for energy and infrastructure projects of LF.
Matt, a Cracow-born Canadian, relocated to Poland in 2005 after having gained experience in VC investing and portfolio management. With a strong know-how in new media and a very good understanding of the business models of tech companies, Matt headed up LF’s significant advisory work in this sector, becoming inter alia the key adviser to Naspers (see ‘The South African Internet Job’ and attached article). He also played instrumental roles in the private equity exits in Croatia and Serbia of Copernicus, one of the predecessors to Abris Capital (see ‘Our Private Equity Competences’).
Having managed the acquisition of Gadu-Gadu through a P2P in 2006, he went on to manage deals in the Czech Republic and Romania (not closed), and led the commercial DD team on the acquisition of London-listed Tradus PLC (holding company of Allegro.pl, the dominant Polish online shopping site) in 2008, and the P2P acquisition of Bankier.pl in 2009.
When Lehman went down, he decided it was time for his Polish wife and three sons to get to know North America. He is now managing his investment in a Philadelphia-based tech company (Pulsar Informatics) as well as a range of technology start-up investments, based out of Seattle. A CFA charterholder since 2001, Matt has contributed to his profession as a CFA course instructor and exam writer.
Please also see an article about measuring fatigue written by Matt.
On occasion, Matt may provide senior expertise on select teams for technology sector advisory projects of LF.
Wojtek joined LF in 2006 from Polish advisory firm Access and was a key banker on a host of transactions, including in infrastructure (‘The Italian (Road) Job’), in energy, and the internet (‘The South African Internet Job’), and in mobile telephony (‘The Polish Mobile Job’). His expertise and diligence was valued by clients across all segments. He worked closely on debt mandates with Tom Maj, and on M&A mandates with Dario and Alex.
Wojtek joined Abris Capital together with the former LF team in 2012, and has never looked back, being promoted to Partner in late 2016. Jointly with Alex he bought and quadrupled the business of Polish municipal waste company Novago, sold at undisclosed proud multiples to leading Chinese waste processing giant Everbright in 2016, one of Abris’ best deals to date. Please see attached presentation setting out key features of that transaction.
Wojtek and Alex continue to compare notes to identify new areas of collaboration between LF and Abris in the future.
Alek Skolozynski was the pre-eminent telecom analyst at LF, working on all telecom mandates, including for Polish altnet Netia, for B2B challenger GTS, and of course for PLAY, successively advising on four rounds of debt financing exceeding USD 800m. Combining detailed knowledge of the mobile phone industry with strong modelling and presentation skills, Alek was an indispensable asset in our TMT work, and worked closely not just with Alex, but also with Senior Advisors Bo Kulakowski and Kent Holding, when the opportunity arose.
Having been headhunted before, Alek decided to join Polish TV-and-radio-tower-business Emitel in 2012 when the LF team headed to Abris, initially as head of controlling, and since 2017 as CFO.
He has gone on to combine telephony and finance skills for the private equity owners of Emitel and is a valued alumnus, on whose advice we call from time to time.
Kent has worked in mobile telephony in CEE for over two decades, with senior executive jobs in Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, and the UK. Kent and Alex met at Polish listed altnet Netia in 2004; where after the restructuring a business plan was written, a draft spectrum bid prepared, and Novator was won as majority shareholder; and thus Netia Mobile a.k.a. P4 a.k.a. PLAY was created as a blueprint on a power point in a conference room. 14 years later, it has >14m customers and is #1 in Poland.
Having done a stint in banking for GE in Poland (GE Money Bank/BPH 2006 – 2010), Kent has gone on to make his private equity owners proud, both as CFO of Polish radio and tv tower business Emitel, where he helped restructure and successfully sell the business in 2 ½ years for Montagu Capital, and at Equatex in Zurich and Warsaw, where he currently serves as CFO.
Having worked successfully on PLAY, Kent and Alex keep in touch to discuss developments in the CATV and telephony space, with a view to combining forces again for the benefit of select clients in the future.
Bo and Alex go way back to 1999, when Bo was appointed CEO of ERA GSM, then Poland’s leading mobile telephony network owned by Elektrim and Deutsche Telekom, and Alex was appointed CFO of Elektrim. They worked together closely to grow ERA from 3+m subscribers to 12+m, raising senior bank financing totaling EUR 650m (2000) and high yield bonds totaling EUR 200m (2001), as well as winning a 3G license for ERA GSM in 2001.
Subsequently, BO worked for ITI and TVN, inter alia as creator of digital TV platform ‘n’. Bo is a gadget lover, a technology buff, a marketing expert, and an IT guy, and a constant source of inspiration and ideas. He has worked in mobile banking and pioneered other developments at the edges of telephony, connectivity and creativity.
From time to time, he provides his fountain of knowledge to select clients of LF, and we welcome the gravitas and experience that he brings to our TMT clients.
Jerzy is a Warsaw-based legal advisor that under the previous administration has acted as CEO of WSE-listed Tauron as well as WSE-listed PGNiG, respectively the second-largest Polish energy utility and the largest Polish gas utility, both effectively state-controlled through significant shareholdings despite being publicly-listed.
As CEO of PGNiG, Jerzy was conducting successful contract negotiations with the leading LNG supplier and necessary legislative changes arising from the stock market obligations. Additionally, Jerzy prepared the negotiation strategy concerning main gas supplier and was actively managing the process of separating the retail trade area from the PGNiG structures, establishing the Company PGNiG OD, which sells gas to 6.5 million clients. Jerzy was maintaining relations with the stakeholders in the scope of the strategic interests. As CEO of Tauron, he prepared the concept of creation of a modern fuel and energy organization by preparing the foundations for the new business model of the company. Jerzy also successfully solved collective disputes in Tauron Capital Group.
Before Tauron, Jerzy was a Vice-President of BOT GiE (BOT Mining and Power Generating Holding - now PGE S.A.), where he was responsible for Strategy and Integration, IT Development and Central Purchases and Logistics areas. During 2009-2012 Jerzy was a Vice-President of the Managment Board of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (State Development Bank). Jerzy’s publications on the energy matters are widely known in Poland – among others, he frequently publishes his articles and comments on wnp.pl, one of the best known Polish websites dedicated to energy sector.
Jerzy is currently heading the industry association Stowarzyszenie Elektryków Polskich, and maintains close contacts to the Polish energy sector and the relevant government authorities, with a view to continuing his good work in various forms.
Jerzy was titled the Best Manager of 2015 by Bloomberg Businessweek Polska. Also he was awarded with a silver medal for merits in 2014 by the Order of Malta, in Rome.
LF and Jerzy compare notes on Polish energy matters on a regular basis. On occasion, Jerzy may make his know-how available to LF’s clients, acting as Senior Adviser on select energy mandates that do not conflict with his other responsibilities and positions.
Pawel has a long track record in Poland as a successful senior investment banker, acting as MD of CAIB Advisers / Unicredit Investment Banking (1994-2010), as well as the Head of Wood & Co in Poland (2010-11), advising many clients on ECM and M&A matters over 15 years.
Under Poland’s previous administration, he became Deputy Minister of Treasury (2012-14), and was responsible for a number of privatisations, using his strong capital markets know-how. Pawel was subsequently appointed as CEO of the listed Warsaw Stock Exchange (2014-15), crowning his achievement as one of Poland’s foremost capital market bankers.
LF values Pawel’s long-standing experience, good advisory work, deep capital markets know-how, and intends to work with Pawel on select transactions where we have complimentary skills and competences.
Karol has held managerial and executive roles in media, telecoms and infrastructure companies for twenty years. Size of the businesses does not seem to matter, as he goes from CFO roles in large companies to start-ups, where he rolls up his sleeves to get the businesses going.
Karol gained experience in corporate finance and capital market transactions at Elektrim, where he helped Alex restructure the complex capital group and raise financing for subsidiaries in telecom and energy sectors. He then moved to PTC (currently T-Mobile Polska) where he was responsible for long-term financial planning, controlling and investor relations.
In 2005 he joined ITI as CFO of the start-up DTH pay-TV platform 'n' which he developed for over 5 years from initial business plan preparation, through a successful market launch, to EBITDA positive +1 million customers enterprise, sold to TVN and then - after Karol's departure - merged with Canal+.
And now for something completely different, between 2012-2015 Karol was CFO of PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe, the owner of national rail infrastructure, taking part in a large restructuring program of Polish railways. He put an end to the company's liquidity problems, through multiple effectiveness initiatives, restructuring PLN +400 million receivables from a key customer and introducing a new calculation of cost-based rail access charges. With the state and EU funding not always available for the company's large capex program worth ca. EUR 2 billion annually, he raised EIB and other debt financing to prefinance investment projects.
In the wake of the political shift after the 2015 parliamentary elections, Karol left the state-owned enterprise and soon found himself in start-up mode again. He helped launch Showmax, the Naspers-owned SVOD service in Poland, as its Head of Operations, being responsible inter alia for financial planning and negotiating key partnership deals.
Karol and Alex stay in touch to work together for media and telecom clients, whenever opportunities arise for management advisory, financial planning or funding projects.