5th Annual SEE Private Equity Forum 2012
Our 5th Annual SEE Private Equity Forum took place on the 3rd July at the prestigious Radisson Blu Hotel in Bucharest. Bringing together leading experts from all across Europe who are either currently active in the Southeastern Europe private equity market or who are interested to expand in the region and keen to find out more.
This conference addressed the most important issues facing the private equity market in the emerging markets of SEE with particular focus on Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece.
We would like to firstly thank Ms Mirna Marovic, President of the Croatian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, for chairing the event and for providing an opening address into the local market trends, as well as highlighting the challenges and opportunities moving forward.
This was followed by a presentation by serial entrepreneur and “Dragon” in the Romanian Dragons’ Den, Mr Marius Ghenea (VentureConnect), highlighting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southeast Europe. This insightful presentation focused on the financing options available to entrepreneurs and how private equity can help businesses to grow and to develop.
This was then followed by Mr Iannis Tsakiris from the European Investment Fund (EIF) who discussed the EIF’s approach to private equity and venture capital in the region. Highlighting the fund’s current investment approach; commitments across Europe; the JEREMIE initiative in Romania and Bulgaria, as well as the Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF).
Mr Richard Clegg concluded the morning session with a detailed presentation outlining the legislative and regulatory environment for private equity investment. This presentation addressed key legal issues including macro dependence, ownership impact, and trends and returns.
After guests had recharged during the morning coffee break, Mr Mihai Coca-Cozma from Alico Pensions opened our subsequent ‘Fundraising’ session. Mr Coca-Cozma spoke on the accessibility of pension funds for private equity investors in the region following the recent reforms in the pension industry. Key topics which were covered include recent trends; asset allocation, fund guarantees and with a particular focus on the operational issues and challenges facing investments into private equity. The main conclusion from this presentation was that pension providers are keen to invest into private equity, however there are numerous obstacles that need to be overcome.
This presentation was then followed by a panel discussion chaired by Mr Loukas Pilitsis from Piraeus Equity Advisors. Panellists included Mr Jean-Philippe Burcklen (EIF); Mr Mugur Popescu (Chartered Financial Analysts Association); Ms Jennifer McLeod Petrini (IFC); Mr Troy Weeks (EBRD); Mr Valeri Petrov (Bancroft Private Equity) and Mr Markus Kriegler, (Erste Group Bank). The aim of this panel was to establish how GP’s can successfully fundraise in SEE and it was concluded that although fundraising in this difficult environment has it's challenges, the IFIs and private LP’s are looking to provide funds to GP's who use best practices.
Following a well-deserved lunch break which provided an excellent platform for networking and meetings, Ms Doina Popescu from Pinebridge Romania opened the next session which aimed to examine GP’s strategies for growth.
Ms Popescu’s insightful presentation addressed key topics including macroeconomic and PE market context; the sectors which are likely to outperform in the region; strategies for increasing the success of M&A in Buy and Build/Consolidation deals; and exit strategies.
Mr Martin Paev from SORTIS Invest followed with an interesting presentation which provided a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of private equity firms in creating value.
Our ‘Strategies for Growth’ session was concluded with an enjoyable and interactive panel discussion chaired by Mr Nicholas Kabcenell from Darby Private Equity joined by Mr Bela Lendvai-Lintner (ARX Equity Partners); Mr Balazs Tahy (Riverside Europe); Mr Martin Vesselinov Paev (SORTIS INVEST); and Mr Theodoros Kiakidis (Global Finance). This panel discussed important issues including how the current financing market has affected GP’s approach to deals in the SEE; is the SEE bank markets much worse than other parts of the region; do deals in the SEE offer GP’s attractive enough potential returns to be financed on an all equity or near all equity basis; and do GP’s see any viable alternatives to bank financing for access to leverage in the region.
Our final networking coffee break was then followed with presentations from Mr Ettore Thermes from Rescue Partners who outlined their experiences in investing into distressed companies in Italy. Following this, Mr Loukas Pilitsis from Pireaus Equity Advisors discussed the situation in Greece and how this can be seen as a catalyst for opportunities across SEE, highlighting their current industry focus and sectors which are offering the best returns.
The conference was concluded with an address from Mr Sorin Vornic (President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vrancea) highlighting that every crisis brings opportunity. Mr Vornic outlined the investment climate and opportunities in Romania drawing attention to particular sectors including agriculture, tourism, energy and the automotive industries.
The day ended with a drinks reception hosted at the Bla Lounge Bar providing guests with the opportunity to relax and continue to network, whilst enjoying a selection of wine, beer and cocktails.