8th SEE Private Equity and M&A Forum

The 8th annual Southeast Europe Private Equity and M&A forum took place in the Metropol Palace Hotel on September 24th in Belgrade. It was a very successful conference with over 150 registered delegates from all over Europe (Poland, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Balkan countries). EEL Events would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the sponsors: Top Tier Legal Adriatic (Gold Sponsor) EY, Dentons and EOS Holdings (Silver Sponsors) as well as Karanovic & Nikolic and Eurofast ( Bronze Sponsors) who helped make this event possible.

As one of the main partners of the event, the association SPEA (Serbian Private Equity Association) organized a VIP breakfast, where guests had the opportunity to hear from Andrej Babache from Mid Europa Partners, as well as a welcoming speech from the president of the association (SPEA) David Schoch. 

 The conference then commenced, opened by the chairman David Schoch.  The first feature presentation was provided by Mirna Marovic, President of the Croatian Venture Capital Association who addressed why the region was increasingly attractive for investors. Investment opportunities have risen as funds are now looking for new potential in the Balkans. This was followed by Boris Savoric, Senior Partner  at Savoric and Partners (Gold Sponsor) who gave a presentation on Private equity deals Early years vs. These days and Croatian NPL deals- early years. The morning session was then closed with a very interactive and insightful roundtable discussion on the final wave of privatisation in SEE moderated by Rob Irving, Co-chair, Global Private Equity Group, Dentons. Ljubomir Subara, director of the Privatisation Agency stated that there were - 140+ announcements for privatisation and the agency was hopeful for good results in 2015/2016. Other panellists included Nicole Arditti (Lazard Frères)and Arnaud Jossien (BNP Paribas) who both had experiences acting as both sellers and buyers on the consulting side of privatisation. Matej Runjak also contributed to the discussion adding how SSH has attracted investors and how they have shown that they are committed to the privatisation process.

After the opportunity to network during the first coffee break, the conference continued with an engaging and energetic  panel discussions with invited experts such as Urs Indermule (Partner, Transaction Advisory Services-EY) ho talked about the market and awareness of investment activities in Serbia and throughout the rest of Southeast Europe.  Other experts included Gavin Ruyan ( Banca Transilvania) who noted that the region was producing very good returns through private equity. Equally Rastko Petakovic ( Karanovic & Nikolic- Bronze sponsor), Rossen Ivanov (BlackPeak Capital) and Bill Fawkner-Corbett (CEE Equity Partners) were positive about potential deals being generated in SEE. 

Andrej Babache, Director from Mid Europa Partners then gave a much anticipated case study on the acquisition of Danube Food Group. He then joined other experts for a sector focus roundtable on the FMCG sector moderated by Miljan Zdrale (Head of Agribusiness, EBRD). Other panellists included Dr Nikola Stefanovic (SEAF), Nenad Popovic (Jankovic Popovic Mitic-Gold sponsor) and Ivaylo Spassov (Entrea Capital). Delegates then had the chance to have a networking business lunch. Following lunch, Darko Scharzberger (Assistant Director, EMEIA M&A, EY-Silver sponsor) moderated a full and exciting panel discussion on SEE's distressed investments and NPL market. Contributions also came from Alen Dobirc (UniCredit Srbija), Andraz Krusic (CreditExpress), Dejan Dragojevic (Heta Asset Resolution), Ivana Balgojevic (Eurofast- Bronze sponsor) and Csaba Monoki (DDM Group). 

Stefan Tzalov from EIF then gave a joint presentation with Jan Kobler from RSG Capital on the ENIF Investment Fund. They informed us on the key features of the first fund dedicated to the Western Balkans region. This was followed by a short LP panel discussion moderated by Mirna Marovic (CVCA) which featured presentation from Troy Weeks (EBRD) who spoke about target returns. The roundtable which also featured Stefan Tzalov and Gianluca Massimi both from EIF and Dinko Novoselec (CEO, AZ Pension Fund) who gave a local LP perspective, discussed challenges of investors in choosing investments- decision making process and how you select teams.

After a well-deserved coffee and a chance to network with each other, participants once again took their seats for the Succession stories panel discussion moderated by Edward Keller (Partner, Dentons-Silver Sponsor). The roundtable which featured Richard Golden (Raiffeisen International Bank), Tamasz Szalai (CEE Equity Partners) and Michal Kedzia (Enterprise Investors) discussed how succession deals have been a good source for transactions in SEE. 

The last presentation of the day was a case study by Vuk Vukovic, Partner at Blue Sea Capital on their healthcare chain in Serbia. The last panel discussion moderated by Alex Bebov (Balkan Advisory Company) discussed the, important sectors for investment, such as TMT, Healthcare, Agriculture and Energy. Further  panel speakers were Gagik Akparian (Tetrad Capital Partners), Michal Kedzia (Enterprise Investors) and Vladimir Dasic (BDK Advokati).

The forum was an excellent opportunity to hear the latest news about investing through private equity in the region. The day closed with an Evening Cocktail Reception sponsored by TLA at the Communale Restaurant where Guests had the perfect opportunity to speak with each other further and discuss the days’ ideas whilst enjoying glass of wine.

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