It was almost impossible to split the two leading candidates for this year’s award, despite the much reduced field following a dearth of fund raising over the last 12 months, but decide we must, and the winner of EVCJ’s Placement Agent of the Year 2009 is MVision.
In the most challenging fund raising environment in a little under a decade, placement agents have struggled to pick up business. Some have responded by sitting on their hands and waiting it out, whilst others, including the winners of this year’s award, have stepped up and evolved a new type of business model.
MVision’s newest product revolves around direct investments. As the firm explains, it provides clients “with the opportunity to access dealflow unavailable via normal fund investments or co-invests. By providing a single deal structure, the General Partner is allowed more control, avoids providing competition with dealfow, and helps cement relationships with existing investors. Directs also cater to a new breed of investor who prefers directs over formalised private equity investment.”
MVision has also established a dedicated real estate team, which has already secured one mandate in the US, another in the ‘Rest of the World’ category and a European vehicle poised for sign-off in 2010 to add to its November 2008 fund raising of EQT’s first ever infrastructure fund. Despite launching in 2008, it managed to exceed its €1bn target by €200m.
Jason Glover, a partner at Clifford Chance and advisor on the fund raising, said: “In our view MVision’s unfailing commitment and energy were critical in driving the EQT Infrastructure advisoring to a successful final close, with funds raised considerably exceeding the target amount. MVision’s performance in the face of unprecedented market turmoil was outstanding. We work with all the major placement agents and we believe MVision’s market knowledge and fund raising execution skills place them at the very forefront of global placement agents.”
One fund worked on this year was the Investindustrial III Build-Up Fund. Launched in Q2 2009, the Spain and Italy focused firm wanted a bit of extra firepower to take advantage of what it saw as unprecedented opportunities to build the 11 companies in the portfolio of Investindustrial III. Fund III raised €500m in 2005 and is almost fully invested. The Build-Up Fund raised €100m and closed in October, and was offered to investors on a carry and management fee-free basis.
Other funds MVision worked on include an £84m expansion of Abingworth V, a US$220m cleantech/renewable energy fund for Virgin Green, as well as the €1bn LBO France fund, White Knight VII.
In total, MVision raised almost €6bn between November 2008 and October 2009, securing 16 new mandates. Forty-four percent of these were new relationships, 56% were repeat, 19% were first-time funds and 13% were product expansion, i.e. the GP was moving into a new area of investment, such as EQT’s infrastructure fund.
The firm has achieved such success by developing a range of products for its clients, such as a Covenant Tracking System, which enables investors to understand the debt and related risks on deals. Another product is the Portfolio Dashboard, which incorporates performance, cost, and leverage and credit sensitivity analysis on a deal by deal basis providing existing and new investors a comprehensive and consolidated view of the unrealised portfolios.
The key to MVision’s continued success is its belief that fund raising is not just a one-off event. It sees its role as a placement agent as assisting its clients with the ongoing task of funding and growing their businesses whilst effectively managing the issues associated with expansion, such as interaction, positioning, growth and success.
In the company’s own words, “the firm encourages its clients to reflect on, examine and articulate a clear strategy, and identify their true competencies and the return potential of their fund. Then, on a carefully targeted basis, the firm will implement a focused, efficient and well thought through funding of that business to unlock and reveal its full potential. MVision concentrates on groups that can clearly demonstrate the potential for outstanding performance”.
MVision chief Mounir Guen has also had a busy year. He chairs the EVCA Placement Task Force, which was formed in May 2009 with the mission of formulating a code of conduct for private equity placement agents. Guen also sits on the Investor Relations Committee of EVCA and chairs the taskforce which manages the annual EVCA Investor Forum held each March.
Headquarters: London, UK
Other offices: New York, US
Investment professionals: Over 50
Mandates secured in 2009: 16
Amount raised: Almost €6bn
WHY THE FIRM WON:
• Won 16 mandates raising just under €6bn in a very challenging time for fund raising.
• Forty-four percent of these were new clients.
• Established a dedicated real estate team.
• Developed a range of products in response to economic downturn.