Pete Clarke, Livingbridge
“My relationship with partners such as Mike Reeves, Phil Burns and Carl Houghton actually goes back to well before they all came together under the Clearwater business.
“You should never underestimate the strength of these professional relationships. You have times in a deal when it is all fine, but there are also times when there need to be tough conversations on both sides.
“That’s when the true value of these personal, long-term relationships comes to the fore. We have been through an enormous amount together over the years and that counts, we have so much shared history. We trust each other. I have no doubt other people in our business will have very similar relationships with other members of the Clearwater team.
“It comes back to us needing relationships with people who can provide good quality opportunities for us to invest in, who can support us during the deal process, and also find us the right buyers when exiting.
“One of the things that has also bound our firms together as we have both grown is that our clients are increasingly global in their outlook. The world is a lot smaller than it once was and our portfolio companies increasingly operate on a global scale.”
“Most of the market has moved towards a sector-based approach but some players invest in it without being really serious. That is definitely not the case with Clearwater. Our conversations with the likes of Carl Houghton in TMT, or Marcus Archer in support services, are driven by deep knowledge and mutual interest in these sectors.
“The result is that you end up with much deeper relationships and conversations about specific assets. We know that Clearwater fully understands the sectors it operates in. The sector focus really means something and has value. As a private equity investor you are only going to be prepared to pay for an asset if you are working with people with a deep understanding of the market who you can trust.
“The fact that Clearwater works with so many different private equity firms is partly a reflection of the proliferation of private equity houses, but is also testament to the respect that the firm has in the market.”
Clearwater lead the field with its research and deal origination, and as a firm we have developed our own nuance of the same model. Just like Clearwater, for us it is about getting to businesses early off-market and building strong relationships over a long period of time.
“We have a similar culture, and it is no surprise that we will sometimes go into a business and find that Clearwater has already been to visit a management team too.”
Breadth of service
“Clearwater’s debt advisory services are really valuable for private equity, particularly as the lending market has become more complex, and we have called on those services many times. It is a great product for us.
“Changes in the market have also called for these types of services. For instance, today we are seeing processes akin to auctions not just for larger assets but sometimes for slightly smaller businesses too. In these situations there is often a need to move quickly and understand the debt appetite quickly.”
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