Our Track Record
Most small firms do commensurate work. Historically, were lucky to have had a chance to punch above our weight, as the boxing adage goes, since putting together a unique set of people in 2004 and riding the strong growth of the economies of Poland and Central Europe.
Over the years, there have been many splendid deals, achieved against the odds and thanks in large part to the great management teams and dedicated sponsors pushing us hard to achieve. The value of our closed M&A deals in the years 2004-2011 exceeded EUR 4 billion, while the debt financings arranged exceeded EUR 900 million. If one had to ‘single out’ any particular achievements, three areas come to mind that are worth highlighting:
- Mobile telephony: Together with the inspired and dedicated shareholders at Netia, Novator, and Germanos, but in particular with the creative and cutting edge management teams at PLAY, Poland’s 4th mobile operator, we have been privileged to facilitate the creation of the most successful mobile challenger in Europe. Starting as project manager for Netia in 2004 on the UMTS tender, through writing the business plans and the tender bid, and securing Novator as the majority shareholder (2005), we did a first by organizing a critical EUR 150m of vendor financing from China Development Bank to fund network roll-out by Huawei (2006), increased to EUR 640m as the company and its network expanded (2008), and subsequently modified and further enhanced (2010, 2011). Today PLAY has 28% market share and over 15 million subscribers.
- Infrastructure: Convergence is not possible without fast growth, and fast private sector growth is only possible if there is, amongst others, facilitating infrastructure. Fostering and regulating private infrastructure and private-public-partnerships is not easy, and has been haphazard in Poland, too. Alex’ heritage as an EBRD project finance banker and macroeconomist, and our preference for large, structured deals, has allowed us to play a role in fostering the development of (private) infrastructure and services. Key amongst the clients and mandates in this sphere were the following:
- Facilitating competition in telecoms markets, by advising Poland’s leading alternative telecom provider Netia S.A. on its successful expansion; rising like a phoenix from the ashes after its near-death restructuring early in the new millennium, a succession of inspired management teams, as nudged on by largest shareholder Novator, have first relied on mobile telephony to accelerate growth, before re-inventing the business model and focusing on retail broadband and latterly the triple play, tripling market cap twice as a result and giving the incumbent sleepless nights earlier in this decade (since sold).
- Facilitating the market entry of Italy’s largest concession motorway network, Autostrade SpA/Atlantia SpA, by acquiring a controlling stake in publicly-listed Stalexport Autostrade S.A. (2006/7), divesting the steel business (2008), and working with both to expand their network of private motorway concessions in Poland; the crisis put an untimely suspension to those expansion plans, as motorized travelers to Poland will know all too well.
- Working with a range of sponsors on privatization, M&A and debt financing deals in the Polish power sector; our Mediterranean reach, based on a personal network of friends and bankers and cultural affinity with Italy and Spain, in particular, enabled us to work with many corporate sponsors that saw an opportunity to use EU accession funds to repeat in Poland the successful convergence feat of Spain, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Greece from the mid-1980s
- Internet / New Media: broadband internet, Google, Facebook, iTunes, iPads, smartphones, etc. – our world, our communication patterns, and our consumption of media has fundamentally changed in the last decade. Few global media companies have grasped this as well and as early as Africa’s leading media company, the South African Naspers; for years, our counterparts confused them with Napster, but latterly they are one of the most banked EEMEA corporates in the coverage universe. We feel privileged to have been their bankers of choice in Poland and CEE, executing over half a dozen mandates, and acquiring all listed Polish internet business for them, including Gadu Gadu (2007), Allegro (2008), and bankier.pl (2009), as well as advising them on the pre-IPO roll-up of their leading Russian internet group, mail.ru (2010), into DST. Between Tencent (QQ) and Group Mail.ru, they own leading shares in the dominant internet platforms in two of the four BRICs, while Allegro is the leading e-commerce player in all of CEE (since sold).
We look forward to adding to this list going forward, with you!
Since nothing showcases our qualities as advisors as well as our track record, we have expanded on some of these advisory successes in the following pages.
The LatAm Job
As of mid-2018, WOM has exceeded 4m subscribers in this 18m population market, adding on a monthly basis more than Nextel bequeathed to Novator, with 2,000 highly motivated employees, 200+ stores where customers queue to be served, and a kick-ass brand that has taken young Chile by storm.
The Polish Job
The company, which today is known as PLAY and is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, was no more than a blueprint in 2005 when we started. Today it has over 15 million subscribers, over EUR 1.5 billion in annual revenues, and has reached the #1 position in the country.
The Italian Job
Having teamed up with WestLB (Milan) and Unicredito (Italy), we had secured Italy’s leading motorway company, Milan-listed Autostrade SpA (since re-branded to Atlantia SpA), to buy a motorway bridgehead in Poland – if you forgive the pun.
the South African Job
Our work with Naspers led to a number of successful transactions, including the acquisition of some iconic Polish companies, among them Gadu Gadu, Allegro, the 7th biggest auction website in the world at the time, followed by the acquisition of bankier.pl.
Working With China
Since 2004, we have closed 6 deals in telecom financing, 4 for PLAY and 2 for WOM, dealing in most instances with China Develoment Bank and Sinosure, but also meeting with a host of other Chinese banks and institutions.
In 2016, when the Chinese president Xi Jinping came to Poland to further Chinese/CEE economic links, the biggest transaction signed was the sale by Abris Capital of Novago to China Everbright International.
Clients and Projects
Many of our clients have trusted us with half-a-dozen mandates or more since 2004, in mutual recognition of our strong professional relationship and the high value-added that we have on occasion been able to provide to their operations