What was your biggest fear about working with private equity investors?
The most significant concern I had was not about how it would be to work with PE, since I knew we would spend time getting to know our investor beforehand, it was about introducing an investor to our main shareholder who then subsequently didn’t deliver. Our shareholder didn’t want or need to do the deal, but he understood that management needed a transaction for a number of reasons. He offered us the opportunity to bring a prospective partner to the table but we all understood that if that party didn’t deliver on its commitment, there was limited, if any, appetite to further distract management and the business with a drawn out process. We therefore had one shot at a deal and we took it with MML …. and they delivered.
What was your first impression of working with MML?
They are smart people but without the ego that often goes with it. It’s clear they enjoy what they do and want us to enjoy working with them. They are not “recruiters” and don’t pretend to be, and whilst they obviously understand the business and the drivers, and push and challenge us on these, they are not afraid to ask the simple questions. Sometimes that is helpful, just to give some perspective. On the flip-side if we ask for something and they don’t have the answer, they’ll tell you so, but they’ll also often suggest how we can find the answer together!
How did you choose MML to be your partner?
We were introduced to Richard and Ian via an advisor who we knew well and trusted. The advisor understood what we needed and the type of investor who would work well with us. We met with the MML team, built a relationship and established an alignment in terms of what we both believed the opportunity was. We then spoke to a number of their investee companies, who referenced them very well, before we introduced them to our shareholder. Since our shareholder wanted to remain invested, it was important that MML convinced him not only that they would deliver on the transaction, but also that they were the right partner to drive value growth and be the custodians of his continued minority investment.