Crevan O’Grady, Volpi Capital
“Our experience with Clearwater in terms of a transaction came first when we acquired a business called Medinet, whose shareholders were being advised by Phil Burns and more recently with our recent investment in Version 1, the Irish IT services group whose shareholders were being advised by John Sheridan, head of Clearwater’s Irish office.
“John had the mandate to help Version 1 find a buyer but this certainly wasn’t any kind of processed deal. Instead you had a situation where the various owners of the business wanted to move on but were not sure exactly how they were going to achieve their various goals. The management team were also existing shareholders, so there was an inevitable complexity that came from that too.
“The challenge from John’s perspective – and one which he met superbly – was how to meet what were, at times, conflicting objectives. How to find a point of intersection between overlapping and competitive needs. John was constantly keeping on top of the price, process and partnership.”
“For us this personalised service offering is a big part of the attraction of engaging with a corporate finance house like Clearwater. To be honest, if we had bought this service from an investment bank we would have been shoved through a sausage machine. Having a Clearwater partner staying very close to the deal at all times was absolutely key to making this happen.
“The other thing to mention is that some of the needs of the different parties are not always 100% obvious on day one. In the end the deal came off because Clearwater had done enough planning upfront to have a clear direction of travel. They had narrowed it to ‘what is the must have’, ‘what is nice to have’, and ‘where are the conflicts going to emerge?’ By the time we got to heads of terms we already knew what the shape of the deal was going to be and, importantly, knew we could keep everyone in the tramlines.”
“What it came down to was what I would describe as good old-fashioned dealcraft. When you are trying to align lots of different stakeholder needs there is no substitute for dealmaking experience. It is about looking around the corner, seeing what might be coming up, seeing where the conflicts could be. Not being afraid of the complexity of getting a deal done.
“Clearwater also helped with the debt angle and took a very pragmatic approach. Although we had nailed down the broad structure and pricing, we were able to tap into Clearwater’s debt advisory services too.”
“As a firm Clearwater has a big spread, is well co-ordinated, and has growing market share. Since the deal we have also tapped into its global presence and wider network as we pursue a buy-and-build strategy for Version 1. Clearwater has been good at putting us in touch with people around Europe and helping us raise Version 1’s profile.”
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