Interview

Laurence de Rosamel recently joined Clearwater International as Director heading up the French Debt Advisory team.

Debt Funds Clearthought – Interview Image

Tell us about your background?

I have previously worked for financial services group Oddo & Cie in Debt Capital Markets, and for DC Advisory/Close Brothers in Debt Advisory and M&A roles. I have a wide experience in debt advisory and placement focusing on LBO, corporate and restructuring transactions.

What was the attraction of joining Clearwater International?

I was really drawn to the independence of Clearwater and the fact this is a pure debt advisory role. I am particularly relishing the challenge of setting up a new local practice and growing Clearwater’s Debt Advisory network across Europe on the back of a very well-respected M&A team in France, which benefits from a strong reputation from both corporates and investment funds thanks to its outstanding sector know-how.

What are your goals for the team?

My initial goal is to get the Clearwater International name more strongly recognised across France for debt advisory and to capitalise on the strong relationships that the firm already has with French businesses and the wider financial community.

The ambition of the team is essentially two-fold: firstly, we will develop a standalone debt advisory business on LBO, corporate and real-estate debt; and secondly we will support the M&A team on all financing aspects in both sell side and buy side mandates.

The team includes my former colleague Paul Assaël as Associate. He spent three years at Oddo & Cie in Debt Capital Markets having previously worked in the financing teams of Arkea and Schelcher Prince Gestion. We have also appointed an analyst who will be joining the team shortly.

How would you describe the debt advisory market in France?

At the moment the market is much less mature than in the UK, so we sense a real opportunity as there is increasing demand for debt advisory services in France right now.

Sources of liquidity are plentiful, but a big issue for managers is that they often do not know how to read the market and investors, and how to match their financing objectives with the products available to them.

This is exactly where we come in because we know the players and their offers/constraints. In particular, we see a real opportunity in the mid-market, helping to finance deals in the €30m to €150m range. Another area which is currently not being addressed is the alternative real estate debt market where we have a strong M&A franchise in France that we can build upon.

Do you expect to see a lot of refinancings in the years ahead?

Yes, we now see a lot of clients growing and investing but, further to my earlier point, they do not necessarily have the knowledge they need to navigate a full refinancing process. A key part of our role will be to help these companies manage the process by helping them prepare their credit story, select book runners or arrange a club deal by casting an independent eye over the whole process, and advising the client in its decision making and through all negotiations.

Do you expect to work with debt funds as much as banks?

Absolutely. Larger lending banks do not tend to deal with transactions much below €100m and the debt fund market is now very significant here in France with both pure French players and UK-based funds covering Europe from London. Part of our job will be to work very closely with Clearwater’s Debt Advisory team in the UK and Germany, and reinforce the excellent relationships the team already has with leading European debt funds.

Given the high levels of liquidity are there not dangers of under-pricing in the market?

Yes, this is certainly a consideration given that the market is so competitive. However, the most competitive segment is prime assets for which default rates are low.

Finally, what do you think the recent election of President Emmanuel Macron now means for the French economy?

The consensus is that he will help provide a more stable financial outlook for the country. In recent years French companies have been reluctant to commit to big investment, even though they are cash-rich, because of a lack of confidence in the economic outlook. With liquidity plentiful and the cost of debt very low, we are seeing a major pick up in investment and deal activity now coming through.

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