Just in time to close Pride Month, we have the final instalment in our series elevating voices from the LBGTQ+ community. This time we hear from Rob Heyvaert, the founder and managing partner of Motive Partners. I also thought it’d be interesting to revisit the other two stories in the series to highlight some key messages.
In take-privates, we have some news on Silver Lake’s pursuit of Software AG.
For deals, we have a double by United Bankers, as the firm’s UB Forest Industry Green Growth Fund made its first two investments.
We also have some data on European deal volume in H1 of 2023, provided by the Centre for Private Equity and MBO Research, supported by Equistone Partners Europe.
More than a month
In the third and final interview in our series featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community in private equity, I spoke with Rob Heyvaert, the founder and managing partner of New York-headquartered Motive Partners.
It was really interesting to hear about Heyvaert’s personal story, considering he sold his first business to IBM at the age of 27. That sale also led to him coming out publicly on the cover of a magazine, which around 30 years ago was fairly unheard of.
Heyvaert told me the private equity industry still has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ people to truly feel welcome and comfortable. One way to tackle this is to challenge individual behaviour. “Do some people still make ridiculous jokes in the workplace? Probably. We have to fight that more than anything,” Heyvaert told me.
This made me think of the first instalment in our series, my interview with Hamilton Lane’s Ada Pospi, as she talked about the importance of active allyship. “I think it is important to remember that true allyship is not passive (ie, not acting in a homophobic/transphobic manner) but active – it is about showing up for your LGBTQ+ colleagues and providing an environment in which they can thrive,” Pospi told me.
Another interesting aspect from the series came from the stark difference between the coming out stories. In my interview with Inovia Capital’s Michael McGraw, he talked about wanting to establish himself first as a great investor before coming out in the workplace. “Not that I had any sign that people would not be receptive to me coming out, but I was just not willing to take the risk,” he said. A very different approach to Heyvaert’s forthrightness, but both equally valid.
Each coming out story is its own journey. Actively striving to create a safe space for LGBTQ+ colleagues to be themselves within and outside the industry is the key.
Next, we have an update for those following Silver Lake’s pursuit of Germany’s Software AG.
The US-based private equity firm announced it has secured a majority stake in Software AG with more than 63 percent of the shares.
Silver Lake intends to pursue a delisting of Software AG “as soon as practically possible”, according to a statement.
If you want to catch up on our Software AG coverage, take a look here.
As I’m writing to you from Finland, the next deal news seemed more than suitable. Helsinki-headquartered United Bankers has signed its first two investment agreements via its UB Forest Industry Green Growth Fund I (UB FIGG).
First is an investment in traceless materials (traceless), a Hamburg-based company processing agricultural industry plant side-streams into fully biodegradable, plastic-free natural biomaterials.
The invested capital will be used to invest into a new commercial scale manufacturing facility and further supporting traceless’ international expansion, according to a press release.
“The team at traceless are solving some of the problems that are in the very core of UB FIGG’s focus, namely reducing plastics in packaging and reducing GHG emissions,” said Sakari Saarela, partner at UB FIGG.
UB FIGG also signed and closed an investment with Woodio, a developer of waterproof solid wood composite products designed to replace ceramic and stone materials in bathroom furniture. European Innovation Council (EIC) is acting as a co-investor in the €16.3 million funding round led by UB FIGG.
The invested capital will be used to make a significant investment in scaling Woodio’s business in Finland along with accelerating international expansion, the release said.
“We are excited to announce UB FIGG’s investment into a Finland-based company, which has developed high value-add, award winning design products from a forest industry side stream,” said Matti Lehtipuu, managing partner of UB FIGG. “Moreover, we believe Woodio products will make a significant impact by reducing up to 80 percent of CO2 emissions in comparison to current typical products.”
Who doesn’t love a bit of data on a Friday? The Centre for Private Equity and MBO Research, in partnership with Equistone Partners Europe, published their provisional half-yearly data on the European buyout industry.
The main takeaway is the sharp fall in the volume of buyouts completed. The 276 buyouts completed in H1 2023 represented the lowest volume for a half-year outside of the early Covid lockdown period since H1 2013, according to the report.
In terms of mega-deals – buyouts valued at over €1 billion – the volume almost halved year-on-year to 10 buyouts with an aggregate value of €21.3 billion, according to the report. Small-cap and mid-market deals also saw falls in both volume and value (to 188 deals worth €2.1 billion and 76 deals worth €8.8 billion, respectively), while proving more robust comparatively, the report said.
Outside of more heavily debt-financed large-cap deals, the slowdown in deal activity was attributed primarily to a lack of supply as opposed to lack of demand, according to the report.
“Across Europe, it’s clear that many PE firms and other business owners who don’t have a strategic imperative to sell are waiting for valuations to improve,” said Christiian Marriott, head of investor relations at Equistone. “While a small number of star performers are up for sale, the challenging economic backdrop means many firms are opting to sit tight and bide their time.”