Financial Advisory is currently our main business. We are, in principle, sector/region/client type agnostic, and take business when we believe we can deliver a contribution and it is worth to pursue.
But, in practice, there is a focus on what we do:
Regions: Most of our business comes from Central Europe or West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria), or, if not, is referred to us from firms or partners in these two core regions.
Size of financing: Most of our mandates are in the low millions to high double digits millions. If the mandate is particularly interesting, we may go lower than this (for example young tech firms).
Business: We have recently had mandates in both renewable and fossil fuel energy, in mining and in the tech sector. But being sector agnostic, we are not limited to this. For example, we have in the past also closed business involving trade finance, an insurance, and a hospitality firm.
The purpose can be growth of the firm, a new venture of an existing firm, import/export trade or project financing. For example, a presently (January 2023) existing mandate of the type “new venture of an existing firm” comes from an oil & gas field service provider who has an opportunity to acquire and develop his own concession. He knows this business very well, he has own funds, but not enough for the new opportunity.
Complexity: Firms who can walk into a bank’s or a fund’s door and get, or even auction their financing offer, don’t have to ask for our services. We seek the more complicated sort. But there is a line between complicated and desperate. We don’t like the latter. We normally do not engage with start-ups.
What we don’t like is clients who have the financing and want to beat the terms: for the type of client typically working with us, getting money is not so easy. If you have funding, go ahead, don’t waste time and opportunity by shopping around for too long. Elapsed time often costs more than savings on the cost of capital obtained.
Financiers: We have a very good overview on who is around in the field of private equity, banking, and development banks. We have personal contacts into some of them, plus a few ones into more private sources.
Clients often come with a financing request and ask whether we know someone who is looking for their offer. The answer is mostly NO. We rarely happen to know the investor who looks for this one type of deal. But we know how to prepare the case to make it investable, look attractive, and how to identify the people to ask. Our world is very large and complex: unless you offer to finance or sell a safely established firm, the expectation that your financial advisor pulls the rabbit out of his hat is not very realistic.
Form of engagement: We only work based on a remuneration agreement with the client who seeks financing. The too clever by half who want us to present them an investor, or at least a LOI, and then they promise to sign a fee agreement – please don’t waste our (and your own) time.
We are very careful to look at the business of our client before we engage. In fact, we have in some cases spent several months back and forth before we accepted a mandate, and often a couple of months, after accepting the mandate, before we had all materials prepared well enough to contact potential investors. To clarify: if it takes that long, it is not because we work so slow, it is because we ask for answers and documents, and then patiently wait.