Guide to private_equity


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Guide to private_equity

  1. 1. A Guide to Private Equity
  2. 2. BVCA mission statementThe BVCA represents private equity and venture capital in the UK and is devoted to promoting theprivate equity industry and improving the performance and professional standards of member firmsand the individuals within those firms.
  3. 3. Private equity – investing in Britain’s future• Each year UK private equity firms provide several billions of pounds to form, develop and reshape around 1,600 ambitious UK companies with high growth prospects.• Private equity makes managers into owners, giving them the freedom, focus and finance to enable them to revitalise their companies and take them onto their next phase of growth.• Private equity is committed, long-term and risk sharing. It provides companies with personal experience and a stable financial base on which to make strategic decisions.• UK private equity firms offer a wide range of sources, types and styles of private equity to meet many different needs.• A great variety of businesses in different industry sectors benefit from private equity; from high to low technology and in different development stages, from start-up to large established companies. 1
  4. 4. PrefaceThe BVCA represents private equity in the UK. Its full members are private equity firms which provide equity funding togrowing unquoted companies and account for over 95% of formal private equity investment in the UK. Associatemembers of the BVCA include firms that provide mezzanine finance, fund of fund managers, secondary purchasers,acquisition finance houses and direct investors into private equity funds, and also lawyers, accountants and otheradvisers experienced in the private equity field, as well as educational or research organisations closely associated withthe private equity industry.The BVCA is devoted to promoting the private equity industry. One of the ways the BVCA achieves this is by providinginformation to those seeking private equity. “A Guide to Private Equity” is a key component in the range of BVCApublications. For further details about other BVCA publications and research see the Appendix on pages 56-58 or theBVCA’s website Arundale, of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, when advising entrepreneurs on preparing business plans and financeraising, realised that they often viewed the process of how private equity firms appraise business proposals and arriveat their required equity stakes as a mystery. He therefore suggested that the BVCA should have a guide to private equity– so he was duly asked to write it! The first Guide was published in April 1992 and since then many tens of thousands ofcopies have been sent out or downloaded from the BVCA’s website. This new edition has been updated by Keith andthe section on the business plan further enlarged. I would like to thank Keith for initiating the Guide and for hiscontinuing help over the years.I would also like to thank the BVCA Executive and in particular Sarah Eaton for the production of another excellent Guide.Anne GloverBVCA ChairmanOctober 20042
  5. 5. ContentsBVCA mission statement Inside front coverPrivate equity – investing in Britain’s future 1Preface 2An introduction to private equity 6 Definition 6 How this Guide can help you 6 What is private equity? 7 Would my company be attractive to a private equity investor? 7 Some of the benefits of private equity 7 Questions to ask yourself before reading further 8 Internal and external financial resources 8 Well-known private equity backed companies 12 The advantages of private equity over senior debt 12 Private equity compared to senior debt 13Sources of private equity 14 Private equity firms 14 Where do private equity firms obtain the money to invest in my business? 14 How may the source of a private equity firm’s money affect me? 14 How do I select the right private equity firm? 15Selecting a private equity firm 16 Targeting 16 Stage/type of investment 16 Industry sector 18 Amount of investment 18 Geographical location 19 3
  6. 6. ContentsThe business plan 20 Essential areas to cover in your business plan 20 The presentation of your business plan 28 Things to avoid 29The investment process 30 Reaching your audience 30 Confidentiality 30 How quickly should I receive a response? 30 How do private equity firms evaluate a business plan? 31 Presenting your business plan and negotiations 31 Valuing the business 31 Personal financial commitment 34 Types of financing structure 34 Classes of capital used by private equity firms 34 Other forms of finance provided in addition to equity 36 Additional points to be considered 36 The Offer Letter 37 The due diligence process 37 Syndication 38 Completion 38 Additional private equity definitions 38The role of professional advisers 40 The financial adviser’s role 40 The accountant’s role 41 The lawyer’s role 42 Professional costs 434
  7. 7. Your relationship with your investor 45 Private equity for growth and success 45 Hands-on 45 Hands-off 46 Help to avoid the pitfalls 46 Directors’ responsibilities 47 Guidelines for success 47Realising the investment 49 The options 49 Valuing the investment on exit 50Before you do anything – read this! 51 Legal and regulatory issues you must comply with in raising finance 51 The Financial Services and Markets Act 51 Misleading statements 54Appendix – further information 56 Contact details 56 BVCA publications and research 56 Other useful contacts 58 5
  8. 8. An introduction to private equityDefinition than many private equity firms are able to invest). In this Guide we principally focus on private equity firms. ThePrivate equity is medium to long-term finance provided attributes that both private equity firms and business angelsin return for an equity stake in potentially high growth look for in potential investee companies are often veryunquoted companies. Some commentators use the term similar and so this Guide should help entrepreneurs and“private equity” to refer only to the buy-out and buy-in their advisers looking for private equity from both theseinvestment sector. Others, in Europe but not the USA, sources. “Corporate venturers” which are industrial oruse the term “venture capital” to cover all stages, i.e. service companies that provide funds and/or a partneringsynonymous with “private equity”. In the USA “venture relationship to fledgling companies and may operate in thecapital” refers only to investments in early stage and same industry sector as your business can also provideexpanding companies. To avoid confusion, the term equity capital.“private equity” is used throughout this Guide todescribe the industry as a whole, encompassing both Throughout the 1990s the technology hype, internet“venture capital” (the seed to expansion stages of boom and massive capital investment propelled theinvestment) and management buy-outs and buy-ins. New Economy revolution, but internet mania in the late 1990s caused technology stocks to skyrocket until theHow this Guide can help you bubble burst in March 2000. There was over-optimism, too much easy money, proven ways of doing businessThis Guide aims to encourage you to approach a source of were replaced by irrational exuberance and private andprivate equity early in your search for finance. It explains public company market valuations were driven tohow the private equity process works and what you need unsustainable do to improve your chances of raising it. It givesguidance on what should be included in your business Post bubble, in the current economic environment, privateplan, which is a vital tool in your search for funding. It also equity firms are looking for investment opportunitiesdemonstrates the positive advantages that private equity where the business has proven potential for realisticwill bring to your business. growth in an expanding market, backed up by a well- researched and documented business plan and anThe main sources of private equity in the UK are the private experienced management team – ideally includingequity firms (who may invest at all stages – venture capital individuals who have started and run a successfuland buy-outs) and “business angels” (private individuals business before. There is currently no shortage of fundswho provide smaller amounts of finance at an earlier stage6
  9. 9. for investment in the UK. Excellent opportunities remain Would my company be attractive to a privateopen to companies seeking private equity with convincing equity investor?business proposals. This Guide will help you to understand Many small companies are “life-style” businesses whosewhat private equity firms are looking for in a potential main purpose is to provide a good standard of living andbusiness investment and how to approach them. job satisfaction for their owners. These businesses are not generally suitable for private equity investment, as theyWhat is private equity? are unlikely to provide the potential financial returns toPrivate equity provides long-term, committed share make them of interest to an external, to help unquoted companies grow and succeed. If “Entrepreneurial” businesses can be distinguished fromyou are looking to start up, expand, buy into a business, others by their aspirations and potential for growth, ratherbuy out a division of your parent company, turnaround or than by their current size. Such businesses are aiming torevitalise a company, private equity could help you to do grow rapidly to a significant size. As a rule of thumb,this. Obtaining private equity is very different from raising unless a business can offer the prospect of significantdebt or a loan from a lender, such as a bank. Lenders have turnover growth within five years, it is unlikely to be ofa legal right to interest on a loan and repayment of the interest to a private equity firm. Private equity investorscapital, irrespective of your success or failure. Private are only interested in companies with high growthequity is invested in exchange for a stake in your company prospects, which are managed by experienced andand, as shareholders, the investors’ returns are dependent ambitious teams who are capable of turning their businesson the growth and profitability of your business. plan into reality. However, provided there is real growthPrivate equity in the UK originated in the late 18th century, potential the private equity industry is interested in allwhen entrepreneurs found wealthy individuals to back stages, from start-up to buy-out.their projects on an ad hoc basis. This informal method offinancing became an industry in the late 1970s and early Some of the benefits of private equity1980s when a number of private equity firms were Private equity backed companies have been shownfounded. Private equity is now a recognised asset class. to grow faster than other types of companies. This isThere are over 170 active UK private equity firms, which made possible by the provision of a combination of capitalprovide several billion pounds each year to unquoted and experienced personal input from private equitycompanies, around 80% of which are located in the UK. 7
  10. 10. An introduction to private equity continuedexecutives, which sets it apart from other forms of finance. If your answers are “yes”, private equity is worthPrivate equity can help you achieve your ambitions for considering. If “no”, for other sources of capital andyour company and provide a stable base for strategic advice call your local Business Link (see Appendix).decision making. The private equity firms will seek toincrease a company’s value to its owners, without taking Internal and external financial resourcesday-to-day management control. Although you may have Before looking at new external sources of finance,a smaller “slice of cake”, within a few years your “slice” make sure you are making optimal use of your internalshould be worth considerably more than the whole “cake” financial resources.was to you before. • Ensure that you have good cash flow forecastingPrivate equity firms often work in conjunction with other systems in placeproviders of finance and may be able to help you to put atotal funding package together for your business. • Give customers incentives to encourage prompt paymentQuestions to ask yourself before reading • Adhere to rigorous credit control proceduresfurther...• Does your company have high growth prospects • Plan payments to suppliers and are you and your team ambitious to grow your • Maximise sales revenues company rapidly? • Carefully control overheads• Does your company have a product or service with a competitive edge or unique selling point (USP)? • Consider sub-contracting to reduce initial capital requirements (if appropriate)• Do you and/or your management team have relevant industry sector experience? Do you have a clear team • Assess inventory levels (if appropriate) leader and a team with complementary areas of expertise, • Check quality control such as management, marketing, finance, etc? Then think about the external options.• Are you willing to sell some of your company’s shares to a private equity investor? • Your own and your co-directors’ funds8
  11. 11. • Friends’ or business associates’ funds The Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme allows businesses without sufficient security for commercial bank• The clearing banks – overdrafts, short or lending to obtain loans from participating banks that are medium-term loans guaranteed by the Government. The Small Business• Factoring and invoice discounting Service (SBS) guarantees 75% of the loan. Borrowers pay a 2% premium on the outstanding balance. The maximum• Leasing, hire purchase loan for businesses trading for more than two years is• Merchant banks – medium to long-term larger loans £250,000 or £100,000 for newer businesses.• Public sector grants, loans, regional assistance The scheme is available to UK businesses with an and advice annual turnover of up to £3 million – for manufacturers up to £5 million.• Business angel finance Business Links are part of the SBS and can provide• Corporate venturing advice on the various grants available to small businesses as well as practical advice, help and entry to the various• Private equity schemes run by the Department of Trade and IndustryBut please don’t get the impression that private equity is (DTI). Grant opportunities include grants for research anda last resort after you have exhausted your own, your development, Local Regional Development Agency grantsfriends’, your business colleagues’ and your bank’s and the Phoenix Fund for disadvantaged communities andresources. There are many advantages to private equity groups. New businesses (particularly those using newover bank debt. Private equity firms can of course work technology) can get help with premises and managementin conjunction with the other external sources as part of from the various Business Incubation Centres in the UK oran overall financing package. from one of the UK Science Parks. You may also be eligible for EU grants if you are in an innovative business sector orSome of the alternative sources of external finance are are planning to operate in a deprived area of the UK or aelaborated on below for your information. region zoned for regeneration. Apart from Business Links your local Chamber of Commerce and town hall should have lists of grants and available property. 9
  12. 12. An introduction to private equity continuedA new product Selective Finance for Investment in • Offering incentives to investors to make theseEngland has replaced the former Regional Selective investments.Assistance Scheme and is provided by the Regional • Enhancing the impact of business angel networks inDevelopment Agencies. Funding of up to 10-15% of a providing sources of risk capital and expertise to SMEs.project’s total eligible capital expenditure may be obtained. ECFs will be privately managed and invest up to £2 millionThe Regional Venture Capital Funds (RVCFs) are one of equity into an enterprise. A pathfinder round of ECFselement of the £180 million Enterprise Fund that was is to be launched, subject to European state aidscreated in 1998 through the SBS to stimulate more clearance. ECFs will use a limited partnership model withfinance for small businesses and address market weakness two the provision of that finance. The RVCFs were set up toaddress small to medium enterprises (SMEs) seeking • A professional FSA-authorised fund manager who actssmall-scale investment (i.e. £500,000 and below). The on behalf of passive investors.funds cover the North East, North West, London,Yorkshire and the Humber, South East and South West, • An active investor model (e.g. business angels) whoEast Midlands, West Midlands and East of England. invest and manage own funds through ECFs (maybe without authorisation).The concept of Enterprise Capital Funds (ECFs) is aproposed new UK Government initiative following a Business angels are private investors who invest directlyconsultation process instigated at the 2003 Budget. This in private companies in return for an equity stake andaims to improve access to growth capital for small and perhaps a seat on the company’s board. Research hasmedium-sized enterprises by applying a modified US shown that business angels generally invest smallerSmall Business Investment Company (SBIC) model to amounts of private equity in earlier stage companiesthe UK by: compared with private equity firms. They typically invest less than £100,000 at the seed, start-up and early stage of• Bringing more entrepreneurial investors into the company development. Many companies find business management of funds aimed at smaller, early angels through informal contacts, but for others, finding a stage deals. business angel may be more difficult, as the details of individual business angels are not always available.10
  13. 13. The Enterprise Investment Scheme was set up by the corporate venturing is where a corporation invests inGovernment to replace the Business Expansion Scheme private equity funds managed by an independent private(BES) and to encourage business angels to invest in certain equity firm. Corporate venturers raise their funds fromtypes of smaller unquoted UK companies. If a company their parent organisations and/or from external sources.meets the EIS criteria, it may be more attractive to business Do speak to friends, business contacts and advisers asangels, as tax incentives are available on their investments. well as your local Business Link. Do remember there areThe aim of the UK Government’s University Challenge many misconceptions about the various sources ofSeed Fund Scheme is to fill a funding gap in the UK in finance, so obtain as much information as possible tothe provision of finance for bringing university research ensure that you can realistically assess the most suitableinitiatives in science and engineering to the point where finance for your needs and your company’s success.their commercial viability can be demonstrated. Certaincharities and the Government have contributed around£50 million to the scheme. These funds are divided into15 University Challenge Seed Funds that have beendonated to individual universities or consortia and eachone of these has to provide 25% of the total fund from itsown resources. If you are looking into the commercialisationof research at a UK university which is in receipt of a fund,contact your university administration to enquire aboutthe application process. Follow-on finance may beprovided by business angels, corporate venturers andprivate equity firms.Corporate venturing which had developed quite rapidlyin recent years still represents only a small fraction whencompared to private equity investment activity. Directcorporate venturing occurs where a corporation takes adirect minority stake in an unquoted company. Indirect 11
  14. 14. An introduction to private equity continued Well-known private equity backed companies defaults on its repayments, the lender can put your business into receivership, which may lead to the Antler liquidation of any assets. A bank may in extreme Benjys circumstances even bankrupt you, if you have given Ben Sherman personal guarantees. Debt which is secured in this way Earls Court & Olympia and which has a higher priority for repayment than that of general unsecured creditors is referred to as “senior debt”. Early Learning Centre Filofax By contrast, private equity is not secured on any assets First Leisure although part of the non-equity funding package provided by the private equity firm may seek some Focus Wickes security. The private equity firm, therefore, often faces Gala Group the risk of failure just like the other shareholders. The Halfords private equity firm is an equity business partner and is Kwik Fit rewarded by the company’s success, generally achieving its principle return through realising a capital Linguaphone gain through an “exit” which may include: Ministry of Sound New Look • Selling their shares back to the management Pinewood – Shepperton Studios • Selling the shares to another investor (such as The AA another private equity firm)The advantages of private equity over • A trade sale (the sale of company shares to another)senior debt • The company achieving a stock market listingA provider of debt (generally a bank) is rewarded by Although private equity is generally provided as part ofinterest and capital repayment of the loan and it is usually a financing package, to simplify comparison we comparesecured either on business assets or your own personal private equity with senior debt.assets, such as your home. As a last resort, if the company12
  15. 15. Private equity compared to senior debt Private equity Senior debt Medium to long-term Short to long-term Committed until “exit” Not likely to be committed if the safety of the loan is threatened. Overdrafts are payable on demand; loan facilities can be payable on demand if the covenants are not met. Provides a solid, flexible, capital base to meet your A useful source of finance if the debt to equity ratio future growth and development plans. is conservatively balanced and the company has good cash flow. Good for cash flow, as capital repayment, dividend Requires regular good cash flow to service interest and interest costs (if relevant) are tailored to the and capital repayments. company’s needs and to what it can afford. The returns to the private equity investor depend on the Depends on the company continuing to service its business’ growth and success. The more successful the interest costs and to maintain the value of the assets company is, the better the returns all investors will receive. on which the debt is secured. If the business fails, private equity investors will rank If the business fails, the lender generally has first alongside other shareholders, after the banks and call on the company’s assets. other lenders, and stand to lose their investment. If the business runs into difficulties, the private If the business appears likely to fail, the lender could equity firm will work hard to ensure that the put your business into receivership in order to company is turned around. safeguard its loan, and could make you personally bankrupt if personal guarantees have been given. A true business partner, sharing in your risks and Assistance available varies considerably. rewards, with practical advice and expertise (as required) to assist your business success. 13
  16. 16. Sources of private equityThere is a wide range of types and styles of private firms raise their funds for investment from externalequity available in the UK. The primary sources are sources, mainly institutional investors, such as pensionprivate equity firms who may provide finance at all funds and insurance companies, and are known asinvestment stages and business angels who focus on the independents. Private equity firms that obtain theirstart-up and early stages. In targeting prospective funds mainly from their parent organisation are knownsources of finance and business partners, as in any field, as captives. Increasingly, former captives now raiseit works best if you know something about how they funds from external sources as well and are known asoperate, their structure, and their preferences. semi-captives. These different terms for private equity firms now overlap considerably and so are increasinglyPrivate equity firms rarely used.Private equity firms usually look to retain their investment How may the source of a private equity firm’sfor between three and seven years or more. They have a money affect me?range of investment preferences and/or type of financingrequired. It is important that you only approach those Private equity firms’ investment preferences may beprivate equity firms whose preferences match your affected by the source of their funds. Many fundsrequirements. See how to find the right private equity firm raised from external sources are structured as limitedto approach on page 15. partnerships and usually have a fixed life of 10 years. Within this period the funds invest the money committedWhere do private equity firms obtain the to them and by the end of the 10 years they will have hadmoney to invest in my business? to return the investors’ original money, plus any additional returns made. This generally requires the investments toJust as you and your management team are competing be sold, or to be in the form of quoted shares, before thefor finance, so are private equity firms, as they raise their end of the fund. Some funds are structured as quotedfunds from a number of different sources. To obtain Venture and Development Capital Investment Truststheir funds, private equity firms have to demonstrate a (VCITs) and some types of unquoted funds may be able togood track record and the prospect of producing returns offer companies a longer investment horizon.greater than can be achieved through fixed interest orquoted equity investments. Most UK private equity14
  17. 17. Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) are quoted vehicles to the professional advisers listed in the “Associatethat aim to encourage investment in smaller unlisted Members” section.(unquoted and AIM quoted) UK companies by offering As far as a company looking to raise private equity isprivate investors tax incentives in return for a three-year concerned, only those whose investment preferencesinvestment commitment. The first were launched in match your requirements should be approached. PrivateAutumn 1995 and are mainly managed by UK private equity firms appreciate it when they are obviously targetedequity firms. If funds are obtained from a VCT, there after careful consideration.may be some restrictions regarding the company’sfuture development within the first few years. You may find it interesting to obtain a copy of the BVCA’s Report on Investment Activity which analyses theSo How do I select the right private aggregate annual investment activity of the UK privateequity firm? equity industry. It looks at the number of companies backed and the amounts they received by stage,Some private equity firms manage a range of funds industry sector and region.(as described above) including investment trusts, limitedpartnerships and venture capital trusts, and the firms’ You should be mindful of the requirements of theinvestment preferences are listed in the BVCA Directory Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) beforeof members. A fully searchable version of the Directory is you communicate a business plan to potential investors.available free of charge to those seeking private equity See pages 51-55.investment on It lists private equityfirms, their investment preferences and contact details. It The next chapter will take you through the selectionalso lists financial organisations, such as mezzanine firms, process in more of funds managers and professional advisers, suchas accountants and lawyers, who are experienced in theprivate equity field. Your advisers may be able tointroduce you to their private equity contacts and assistyou in selecting the right private equity firm. If they donot have suitable contacts or cannot assist you in seekingprivate equity, obtain a copy of the Directory and refer 15
  18. 18. Selecting a private equity firmTargeting Seed To allow a business concept to be developed, perhapsThe most effective way of raising private equity is to involving the production of a business plan, prototypesselect just a few private equity firms to target with your and additional research, prior to bringing a product tobusiness proposition. market and commencing large-scale manufacturing.The key considerations should be to assess: Only a few seed financings are undertaken each year1. The stage of your company’s development or the by private equity firms. Many seed financings are too type of private equity investment required. small and require too much hands-on support from the private equity firm to make them economically viable as2. The industry sector in which your business investments. There are, however, some specialist private operates. equity firms which are worth approaching, subject to3. The amount of finance your company needs. the company meeting their other investment preferences. Business angel capital should also be4. The geographical location of your business considered, as with a business angel on a company’s operations. board, it may be more attractive to private equity firmsYou should select only those private equity firms when later stage funds are required.whose investment preferences match these attributes. Start-upThe BVCA Directory of members specifies their To develop the company’s products and fund their initialinvestment preferences and contact details. It also marketing. Companies may be in the process of beingincludes the names of some of the companies in which set up or may have been trading for a short time, but notthey have invested. have sold their product commercially.1. Stage/type of investment Although many start-ups are typically smaller companies, there is an increasing number of multi-million poundThe terms that most private equity firms use to define start-ups. Around half of BVCA members will considerthe stage of a company’s development are determined high quality and generally larger start-up the purpose for which the financing is required. However, there are those who specialise in this stage,16
  19. 19. subject to the company seeking investment meeting the MBOs range from the acquisition of relatively smallfirm’s other investment preferences. Around 15% of formerly family owned businesses to £100 million pluscompanies receiving private equity each year are start-ups. buy-outs. The amounts concerned tend to be larger than other types of financing, as they involve theOther early stage acquisition of an entire business. They tend to accountTo initiate commercial manufacturing and sales in for around 15% of financings undertaken each year bycompanies that have completed the product development BVCA member companies.stage, but may not yet be generating profits. Management buy-in (MBI)This is a stage that has been attracting an increasing To enable a manager or group of managers from outsideamount of private equity over the past few years, a company to buy into it.accounting for around 20% of the number of financingseach year by BVCA members. Buy-in management buy-out (BIMBO) To enable a company’s management to acquire theExpansionTo grow and expand an established company. For business they manage with the assistance of someexample, to finance increased production capacity, incoming management.product development, marketing and to provide Institutional buy-out (IBO)additional working capital. Also known as “development” To enable a private equity firm to acquire a company,or “growth” capital. following which the incumbent and/or incomingMore UK companies at this stage of development management will be given or acquire a stake inreceive private equity than any other, generally the business.accounting for around 50% of financings each year by This is a relatively new term and is an increasingly usedBVCA members. method of buy-out. It is a method often preferred byManagement buy-out (MBO) vendors, as it reduces the number of parties with whomTo enable the current operating management and they have to negotiate.investors to acquire or to purchase a significantshareholding in the product line or business they manage. 17
  20. 20. Selecting a private equity firm continuedSecondary purchase 3. Amount of investmentWhen a private equity firm acquires existing shares in a Around 80% of UK private equity firms’ financings eachcompany from another private equity firm or from year are for amounts of over £100,000 per company.another shareholder or shareholders. There are, however, a number of private equity firmsReplacement equity who will consider investing amounts of private equityTo allow existing non-private equity investors to buy back under £100,000 and these tend to include specialist andor redeem part, or all, of another investor’s shareholding. regionally orientated firms. Companies initially seeking smaller amounts of private equity are more attractive toRescue/turnaround private equity firms if there is an opportunity for furtherTo finance a company in difficulties or to rescue it from rounds of private equity investment later on.receivership. The process for investment is similar, whether the amountRefinancing bank debt of capital required is £100,000 or £10 million, in terms ofTo reduce a company’s level of gearing. the amount of time and effort private equity firms have to spend in appraising the business proposal prior toBridge financing investment. This makes the medium to larger-sizedShort-term private equity funding provided to a investments more attractive for private equity investment,company generally planning to float within a year. as the total size of the return (rather than the percentage) is likely to be greater than for smaller investments, and2. Industry sector should more easily cover the initial appraisal costs.Most private equity firms will consider investing in a Business angels are perhaps the largest source ofrange of industry sectors – if your requirements meet smaller amounts of equity finance, often investingtheir other investment preferences. Some firms amounts ranging between £10,000 and £100,000 inspecialise in specific industry sectors, such as early stage and smaller expanding companies.biotechnology, computer related and other technologyareas. Others may actively avoid sectors such asproperty or film production.18
  21. 21. 4. Geographical locationSeveral private equity firms have offices in the UKregions. Some regions are better served with more localprivate equity firms than others, but there are also manyfirms, particularly in London, who look to invest UK-wide.Over 20% of total investment is outside the UK andseveral private equity firms have offices located abroad. 19
  22. 22. The business planA business plan’s main purpose when raising finance is Professional advisers can provide a vital role in criticallyto market your business proposal. It should show reviewing the draft plan, acting as “devil’s advocate” andpotential investors that if they invest in your business, helping to give the plan the appropriate focus. Severalyou and your team will give them a unique opportunity of the larger accounting firms publish their own detailedto participate in making an excellent return. booklets on how to prepare business plans. However, it is you who must write the plan as private equity firmsA business plan should be considered an essential generally prefer management driven plans, such as aredocument for owners and management to formally illustrated in this chapter.assess market needs and the competition; review thebusiness’ strengths and weaknesses; and to identify its Essential areas to cover in your business plancritical success factors and what must be done toachieve profitable growth. It can be used to consider Many businesses fail because their plans have not beenand reorganise internal financing and to agree and set properly thought out, written down and developed. Atargets for you and your management team. It should be business plan should be prepared to a high standardreviewed regularly. and be verifiable. A business plan covering the following areas should be prepared before a private equity firmThe company’s management should prepare the is plan. Its production frequently takes far longerthan the management expects. The owner or the Executive Summarymanaging director of the business should be the one This is the most important section and is often bestwho takes responsibility for its production, but it should written last. It summarises your business plan and isbe “owned” and accepted by the management team as a placed at the front of the document. It is vital to give thiswhole and be seen to set challenging but achievable summary significant thought and time, as it may wellgoals that they are committed to meeting. It should determine the amount of consideration the privateemphasise why you are convinced that the business will equity investor will give to your detailed proposal. Itbe successful and convey what is so unique about it. should be clearly written and powerfully persuasive, yetPrivate equity investors will want to learn what you and balance “sales talk” with realism in order to be convincing.your management are planning to do, not see how wellothers can write for you.20
  23. 23. It needs to be convincing in conveying your company’s explain the current legal status of your business in thisgrowth and profit potential and management’s prior section. You should include an overall “SWOT” (strengths,relevant experience. It needs to clearly encapsulate your weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis thatcompany’s USP (i.e. its unique selling point – why summarises the key strengths of your proposition and itspeople should buy your product or service as distinct weaknesses and the opportunities for your business in thefrom your competitors). marketplace and its competitive threats.The summary should be limited to no more than two to 1. The marketthree pages (i.e. around 1,000 to 1,500 words) and You need to convince the private equity firm that thereinclude the key elements from all the points below: is a real commercial opportunity for the business and its products and services. This requires a careful analysis of1. The market the market potential for your products or services and2. The product or service how you plan to develop and penetrate the market.3. The management team Market analysis4. Business operations This section of the business plan will be scrutinised carefully; market analysis should therefore be as specific5. Financial projections as possible, focusing on believable, verifiable data. Include under market research a thorough analysis of6. Amount and use of finance required and exit your company’s industry and potential customers. opportunities Include data on the size of the market, growth rates,Other aspects that should be included in the Executive recent technical advances, Government regulations andSummary are your company’s “mission statement” – a few trends – is the market as a whole developing, growing,sentences encapsulating what the business does for what mature, or declining? Include details on the number oftype of clients, the management’s aims for the company potential customers, the purchase rate per customer, andand what gives it its competitive edge. The mission a profile of the typical decision-maker who will decidestatement should combine the current situation with your whether to purchase your product or service. Thisaspirations. For an example, see the BVCA’s own mission information drives the sales forecast and pricing strategystatement on the inside front cover. You should also in your plan. Finally, comment on the percentage of the 21
  24. 24. The business plan continuedtarget market your company plans to capture, with • Distribution channelsjustification in the marketing section of the plan. If you are a manufacturer, your business plan should clearly identify the distribution channels that will getMarketing plan the product to the end-user. If you are a serviceThe primary purpose of the marketing section of the provider, the distribution channels are not asbusiness plan is for you to convince the private equity important as are the means of promotion. Distributionfirm that the market can be developed and penetrated. options for a manufacturer may include:The sales projections that you make will drive the rest ofthe business plan by estimating the rate of growth of - Distributorsoperations and the financing required. Explain your - Wholesalersplans for the development of the business and how youare going to achieve those goals. Avoid using generalised - Retailers (including on-line)extrapolations from overall market statistics. - Direct sales – such as mail order and orderingThe plan should include an outline of plans for pricing, over the web, direct contact through salespeopledistribution channels and promotion. and telemarketing.• Pricing - Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), How you plan to price a product or service provides integration of the product into other an investor with insight for evaluating your overall manufacturers’ products. strategy. Explain the key components of the pricing Each of these methods has its own advantages, decision – i.e. image, competitive issues, gross disadvantages and financial impact, and these should margins, and the discount structure for each be clarified in the business plan. For example, distribution channel. Pricing strategy should also assume your company decides to use direct sales involve consideration of future product releases. because of the expertise required in selling the product. A direct salesforce increases control, but it requires a significant investment. An investor will look to your expertise as a salesperson, or to the plans to hire, train and compensate an expert22
  25. 25. salesforce. If more than one distribution channel is Competition used, they should all be compatible. For example, A discussion of the competition is an essential part of using both direct sales and wholesalers can create the business plan. Every product or service has channel conflict if not managed well. competition; even if your company is first-to-market, you must explain how the market’s need is currently Fully explain the reasons for selecting these being met and how the new product will compete distribution approaches and the financial benefits against the existing solution. The investor will be looking they will provide. The explanation should include a to see how and why your company can beat the schedule of projected prices, with appropriate competition. The business plan should analyse the discounts and commissions as part of the projected competition (who are they, how many are there, what sales estimates. These estimates of profit margin proportion of the market do they account for?). Give and pricing policy will provide support for the their strengths and weaknesses relative to your product. investment decision. Attempt to anticipate likely competitive responses to• Promotion your product. Include, if possible, a direct product The marketing promotion section of the business comparison based on price, quality, warranties, product plan should include plans for product sheets, updates, features, distribution strategies, and other potential advertising plans, internet strategy, trade means of comparison. Document the sources used in show schedules, and any other promotional materials. this analysis. The private equity firm must be convinced that the company has the expertise to move the product to All the aspects included in the market section of your market. A well-thought-out promotional approach business plan must be rigorously supported by as much will help to set your business plan apart from verifiable evidence as possible. In addition to carrying your competitors. out market research and discussions with your management team, customers and potential customers, It is important to explain the thought process behind you may need input from outside marketing consultants. the selected sources of promotion and the reasons for those not selected. 23
  26. 26. The business plan continued2. The product or service • If relevant, explain what legal protection you have onExplain the company’s product or service in plain the product, such as patents attained, pending orEnglish. If the product or service is technically orientated required. Assess the impact of legal protection onthis is essential, as it has to be readily understood by the marketability of the product.non-specialists. • You also need to cover of course the price and costEmphasise the product or service’s competitive edge or of the product or service.USP. For example, is it: • If the product is still under development the plan• A new product? should list all the major achievements to date as well as remaining milestones to demonstrate how you• Available at a lower price? have tackled various hurdles and that you are aware• Of higher quality? of remaining hurdles and how to surmount them. Specific mention should be made of the results of• Of greater durability? alpha (internal) and beta (external) product testing.• Faster to operate? • Single product companies can be a concern for• Smaller in size? investors. It is beneficial to include ideas and plans for a “second generation” product or even other• Easier to maintain? viable products or services to demonstrate the opportunities for business growth.• Offering additional support products or services?With technology companies where the product or 3. The management teamservice is new, there has to be a clear “world class” Private equity firms invest in people – people who haveopportunity to balance the higher risks involved. run or who are likely to run successful operations.Address whether it is vulnerable to technological Potential investors will look closely at you and theadvances made elsewhere. members of your management team. This section of the plan should introduce the management team and what you all bring to the business. Include your experience, and success, in running businesses before and how you24
  27. 27. have learned from not so successful businesses. You • Explain what controls and performance measuresneed to demonstrate that the company has the quality exist for management, employees and others.of management to be able to turn the business plan • List your auditors and other advisers.into reality. • The appointment of a non-executive director (NED)The senior management team ideally should be should be seriously considered. Many surveys haveexperienced in complementary areas, such as shown that good NEDs add significant value to themanagement strategy, finance and marketing and their companies with which they are involved. Manyroles should be specified. The special abilities each private equity firms at the time of their investmentmember brings to the venture should be explained. will wish to appoint one of their own executives orThis is particularly the case with technology companies an independent expert to your board as an NED.where it will be the combination of technological and Most private equity executives have previouslybusiness skills that will be important to the backers. If worked in industry or in finance and all will have asome members have particular flair and dynamism, this wide experience of companies going through a rapidneeds to be balanced by those who can ensure this period of growth and development.occurs in a controlled environment. The BVCA’s annual survey of the Economic Impact ofA concise curriculum vitae should be included for each Private Equity reveals that generally over three-quartersteam member, highlighting their previous track records in of the private equity backed companies feel that therunning, or being involved with successful businesses. private equity firms make a major contribution other• Identify the current and potential skills’ gaps and than the provision of money. Contributions cited by explain how you aim to fill them. Private equity private equity backed companies include private firms will sometimes assist in locating experienced equity firms being used to provide financial advice, managers where an important post is unfilled – guidance on strategic matters, for management provided they are convinced about the other aspects recruitment purposes as well as for their contacts and of your plan. market information. 25
  28. 28. The business plan continued4. Business operations • Are there suppliers who can provide the materialsThis section of the business plan should explain how required?your business operates, including how you make the • Is there an educated work force in the area?products or provide the service. It should also outlineyour company’s approach to research and development. These and any other operational factors that might be important to the investor should be included.Include details on the location and size of your facilities.Factors such as the availability of labour, accessibility of 5. Financial projectionsmaterials, proximity to distribution channels, and the Developing a detailed set of financial projections willavailability of Government grants and tax incentives help to demonstrate to the investor that you haveshould be mentioned. Describe the equipment used or properly thought out the financial implications of yourplanned. If more equipment is required in response to company’s growth plans. Private equity firms will useproduction demands, include plans for financing. If your these projections to determine if:company needs international distribution, mentionwhether the operations facility will provide adequate • Your company offers enough growth potential tosupport. If work will be outsourced to subcontractors – deliver the type of return on investment that theeliminating the need to expand facilities – state that investor is seeking.too. The investor will be looking to see if there are • The projections are realistic enough to give theinconsistencies in your business plan. company a reasonable chance of attaining them.If a prototype has not been developed or there is other Investors will expect to see a full set of cohesive financialuncertainty concerning production, include a budget statements – including a balance sheet, income statementand timetable for product development. The private and cash-flow statement, for a period of three to fiveequity firm will be looking to see how flexible and years. It is usual to show monthly income and cash flowefficient the facility plans are. statements until the breakeven point is reached followedThe private equity firm will also ask such questions as: by yearly data for the remaining time frame. Ensure that these are easy to update and adjust. Do include notes• If sales projections predict a growth rate of 25% per that explain the major assumptions used to develop the year, for example, does the current site allow for expansion?26
  29. 29. revenue and expense items and explain the research ensure that key factors and their impact on theyou have undertaken to support these assumptions. financings required are carefully and realistically assessed. For example, what if sales decline by 20%,Preparation of the projections or supplier costs increase by 30%, or both? How does• Realistically assess sales, costs (both fixed and this impact on the profit and cash flow projections? variable), cash flow and working capital. Assess your present and prospective future margins in detail, • If it is envisioned that more than one round of bearing in mind the potential impact of competition. financing will be required (often the case with technology-based businesses in particular), identify• Assess the value attributed to the company’s net the likely timing and any associated progress tangible assets. “milestones” which need to be achieved.• State the level of gearing (i.e. debt to shareholders’ • Keep the plan feasible. Avoid being over optimistic. funds ratio). State how much debt is secured on Highlight challenges and show how they will be met. what assets and the current value of those assets. You might wish to consider using an external accountant• Include all costs associated with the business. to review the financial projections and act as “devil’s Remember to split sales costs (e.g. communications advocate” for this part of the plan. to potential and current customers) and marketing costs (e.g. research into potential sales areas). What 6. Amount and use of finance required and exit are the sale prices or fee charging structures? opportunities State how much finance is required by your business• Provide budgets for each area of your company’s and from what sources (i.e. management, private activities. What are you doing to ensure that you and equity firm, banks and others) and explain for what it your management keep within these or improve on will be used: these budgets? • Include an implementation schedule, including• Present different scenarios for the financial capital expenditure, orders and production timetables, projections of sales, costs and cash flow for both the for example. short and long term. Ask “what if?” questions to 27
  30. 30. The business plan continued• Consider how the private equity investors will make • Length a return, i.e. realise their investment (see page 49). The length of your business plan depends on This may only need outlining if you are considering individual circumstances. It should be long enough floating your company on a stock exchange within to cover the subject adequately and short enough to the next few years. However, it is important that maintain interest. For a multi-million pound technology the options are considered and discussed with company with sophisticated research and manufacturing your investors. elements, the business plan could be well over 50 pages including appendices. By contrast, a proposalThe presentation of your business plan for £200,000 to develop an existing product may be too long at 10 pages. It is probably best to err on theBear the following points in mind when you are writing side of brevity – for if investors are interested theyyour business plan. can always call you to ask for additional information.• Readability Unless your business requires several million pounds Make the plan readable. Avoid jargon and general of private equity and is highly complex, we would position statements. Use plain English – especially if recommend the business plan should be no longer you are explaining technical details. Aim it at non- than 15 pages. specialists, emphasising its financial viability. Avoid • Appearance including unnecessary detail and prevent the plan Use graphs and charts to illustrate and simplify from becoming too lengthy. Put detail into appendices. complicated information. Use titles and sub-titles to Ask someone outside the company to check it for divide different subject matters. Ensure it is neatly typed clarity and “readability”. Remember that the readers or printed without spelling, typing or grammar mistakes targeted will be potential investors. They will need to – these have a disproportionately negative impact. Yet be convinced of the company’s commercial viability avoid very expensive documentation, as this might and competitive edge and will be particularly looking suggest unnecessary waste and extravagance. to see the potential for making a good return.28
  31. 31. Things to avoid!On a lighter note, the following signs of extravaganceand non-productive company expenditure are likely todiscourage a private equity firm from investing and soare best avoided.Things to avoid Flashy, expensive cars Company yacht/plane Personalised number plate Carpets woven with the company logo Company flag pole Fountain in the forecourt “International” in your name (unless you are!) Fish tank in the board room Founder’s statue in reception 29
  32. 32. The investment processThe investment process, from reviewing the business supplied to them by companies looking for private equityplan to actually investing in a proposition, can take a capital (or indeed in which they have invested). There areprivate equity firm anything from one month to one year safeguards you can take, however, if you are particularlybut typically it takes between three and six months. concerned about confidentiality. These include:There are always exceptions to the rule and deals can be • Seeking professional advicedone in extremely short time frames. Much depends onthe quality of information provided and made available • Checking whether the potential investor has anyto the private equity firm. major conflicts of interest, such as a significant investment in a competitorReaching your audience • Leaving out the more confidential dataWhen you have fully prepared the business plan and • Sending only your Executive Summaryreceived input from your professional adviser, thenext step is to arrange for it to be reviewed by a few • Using the BVCA’s standard confidentiality letterprivate equity firms. You should select only those private If you wish to use a confidentiality letter, an example ofequity firms whose investment preferences match the one can be obtained from the BVCA’s website. Theinvestment stage, industry, location of, and amount of general terms of this letter have been agreed by BVCAequity financing required by your business proposition. members and with your lawyer’s advice you can adaptFor the initial approach, it is worth considering sending it to meet your own requirements. You can then ask theonly a copy of the Executive Summary to potential private equity investor to sign it, before being sent theinvestors. This has the advantage of saving costs and full business plan. We would recommend, however,increasing the chances of receiving attention. Before that you only ask for a confidentiality letter when thecommunicating your plan to potential investors, read potential investor has received your Executive Summarypages 51-55 concerning the FSMA requirements. and has shown an interest in giving your proposal detailed consideration.ConfidentialityAll private equity firms who are members of the BVCA How quickly should I receive a response?are bound by the BVCA’s “Code of Conduct” which Generally you should receive an initial indication fromstates that they will respect confidential information the private equity firms that receive your business30
  33. 33. plan within a week or so. This will either be a prompt management team are able to present the business plan“no”, a request for further information, or a request for convincingly and demonstrate a thorough knowledge anda meeting. If you receive a “no”, try to find out the understanding of all aspects of the business, its market,reasons as you may have to consider incorporating operation and prospects.revisions into your business plan, changing/strengthening Assuming a satisfactory outcome of the meeting andthe management team or carrying out further market further enquiries, the private equity firm will commenceresearch before approaching other potential investors. discussions regarding the terms of the deal with you. The first step will be to establish the value of your business.How do private equity firms evaluate abusiness plan? Valuing the businessThey will consider several principal aspects: There is no right or wrong way of valuing a business.• Is the product or service commercially viable? There are several ways in which it can be done.• Does the company have potential for sustained Calculate the value of the company in comparison with the growth? values of similar companies quoted on the stock market.• Does management have the ability to exploit this The key to this calculation is to establish an appropriate potential and control the company through the price/earnings (P/E) ratio for your company. The P/E growth phases? ratio is the multiple of profits after tax attributed to a company to establish its capital value. P/E ratios for• Does the possible reward justify the risk? quoted companies are listed in the back pages of the• Does the potential financial return on the investment Financial Times, and are calculated by dividing the meet their investment criteria? current share price by historic post-tax earnings per share. Quoted companies’ P/E ratios will vary accordingPresenting your business plan and negotiations to industry sector (its popularity and prospects), company size, investors’ sentiments towards it, itsIf a private equity firm is interested in proceeding further, management and its prospects, and can also be affectedyou will need to ensure that the key members of the by the timing of year-end results announcements. 31
  34. 34. The investment process continuedThe private equity investment process32
  35. 35. An unquoted company’s P/E ratio will tend to be lower Calculate a value for your company that will give thethan a quoted company’s due to the following reasons. private equity firms their required rate of return over the period they anticipate being shareholders.• Its shares are less marketable and shares cannot be bought and sold at will. Private equity firms usually think in terms of a target overall return from their investments. Generally “return”• It often has a higher risk profile, as there may be less refers to the annual internal rate of return (IRR), and is diversification of products and services and a calculated over the life of the investment. The overall narrower geographical spread. return takes into account capital redemptions, possible• It generally has a shorter track record and a less capital gains (through a total “exit” or sale of shares), experienced management team. and income through fees and dividends. The returns required will depend on the perceived risk of the• The cost of making and monitoring a private equity investment – the higher the risk, the higher the return investment is much higher. that will be sought – and it will vary considerablyThe following are factors that may raise an unquoted according to the sector and stage of the business. As acompany’s P/E ratio compared with a quoted company. rough guide, the average return required will exceed 20% per annum.• Substantially higher than normal projected turnover and profits growth. The required IRR will depend on the following factors.• Inclusion in a fashionable sector, or ownership of • The risk associated with the business proposal. unique intellectual property rights (IPR). • The length of time the private equity firm’s money• Competition among private equity firms. will be tied up in the investment. • How easily the private equity firm expects to realise its investment – i.e. through a trade sale, public flotation, etc. • How many other private equity firms are interested in the deal (i.e. the competition involved). 33
  36. 36. The investment process continuedOther methods your company depends on the general style of the firmPrivate equity firms also use other ways of valuing and on what you have agreed with them.businesses, such as those based on existing net assets There are various ways in which the deal can be financedor their realisable value. and these are open to negotiation. The private equity firm will put forward a proposed structure for considerationPersonal financial commitment by you and your advisers that will be tailored to meet theYou and your team must have already invested, or be company’s needs. The private equity firm may also offerprepared to invest, some of your own capital in your to provide more finance than just pure equity capital,company to demonstrate a personal financial such as debt or mezzanine finance. In any case, shouldcommitment to the venture. After all, why should a additional capital be required, with private equity onprivate equity firm risk its money, and its investors’, if board other forms of finance are often easier to are not prepared to risk your own! The proportion The structure proposed may include a package of someof money you and your team should invest depends on or all of the following elements.what is seen to be “material” to you, which is verysubjective. This could mean re-mortgaging your house, Classes of capital used by private equity firmsfor example. The main classes of share and loan capital used to finance UK limited liability companies are shown below.Types of financing structureIf you use advisers experienced in the private equity Share capitalfield, they will help you to negotiate the terms of the The structure of share capital that will be developedequity deal. You must be prepared to give up a realistic involves the establishment of certain rights. The privateportion of the equity in your business if you want to equity firm through these rights will try to balance thesecure the financing. Whatever percentage of the risks they are taking with the rewards they are seeking.shares you sell, the day-to-day operations will remain They will also be aiming to put together a package thatthe responsibility of you and your management team. best suits your company for future growth. TheseThe level of a private equity firm’s involvement with structures require the assistance of an experienced qualified legal adviser.34
  37. 37. Ordinary shares entitled to a fixed dividend (e.g. 10% fixed). The sharesThese are equity shares that are entitled to all income may be redeemable on fixed dates or they may beand capital after the rights of all other classes of capital irredeemable. Sometimes they may be redeemable at aand creditors have been satisfied. Ordinary shares have fixed premium (e.g. at 120% of cost). They may bevotes. In a private equity deal these are the shares convertible into a class of ordinary shares.typically held by the management and familyshareholders rather than the private equity firm. Loan capital Loan capital ranks ahead of share capital for bothPreferred ordinary shares income and capital. Loans typically are entitled toThese may also be known as “A” ordinary shares, interest and are usually, though not necessarily,cumulative convertible participating preferred ordinary repayable. Loans may be secured on the company’sshares or cumulative preferred ordinary shares. These assets or may be unsecured. A secured loan will rankare equity shares with preferred rights. Typically they ahead of unsecured loans and certain other creditors ofwill rank ahead of the ordinary shares for both income the company. A loan may be convertible into equityand capital. Once the preferred ordinary share capital shares. Alternatively, it may have a warrant attached thathas been repaid and then the ordinary share capital has gives the loan holder the option to subscribe for newbeen repaid, the two classes would then rank pari passu equity shares on terms fixed in the warrant. Theyin sharing any surplus capital. Their income rights may typically carry a higher rate of interest than bank termbe defined; they may be entitled to a fixed dividend (a loans and rank behind the bank for payment of interestpercentage linked to the subscription price, e.g. 8% and repayment of capital.fixed) and/or they may have a right to a defined share ofthe company’s profits – known as a participating dividend(e.g. 5% of profits before tax). Preferred ordinary shareshave votes.Preference sharesThese are non-equity shares. They rank ahead of allclasses of ordinary shares for both income and capital.Their income rights are defined and they are usually 35