Australia’s venture capital and private equity industry has chosen the top performers and investments for the current year.
The winners of this year’s AVCAL (Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association) awards were announced tonight at the industry’s 21st annual conference in Melbourne.
The category award winners:
- Best Early Stage Award: Brandon Capital Partners for their investment in Fibrotech.
- Best Management Buyout under $75 million: Anchorage Capital Partners for their investment in Dick Smith.
- Best Management Buyout between $75-150 million: Crescent Capital Partners for their investment in Cover-More.
- Best Management Buyout between $150-300 million: Quadrant Private Equity for their investment in Burson Auto Parts.
- Best Management Buyout over $500 million: Pacific Equity Partners for their investment in Asaleo Care
Also awarded was the Michael Hirshorn Award, honouring a private equity or venture capital-backed business whose products or services have been instrumental in making a significant community contribution. This went to Global Renewables and Ironbridge.
A special Chairman’s Award was presented to Anacacia Capital in recognition of it investment in the Rafferty’s Garden business.
And a Lifetime Contribution Award was presented to Judith Smith, Head of Private Equity at IFM Investors, for the significant positive impact she has had on the Australian private equity and venture capital industry over many years.
Detail on the winners:
Fibrotech is developing novel drugs for the treatment of organ scarring, called fibrosis, which is the underlying cause of a number of major diseases, including kidney, lung and heart disease. The technology was developed by scientists at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research. Fibrotech received seed funding from Brandon Capital Managed Funds and Uniseed. Without this funding the company would not have been able to progress the development of this early-stage medical technology. In addition to development capital, Brandon co-located Fibrotech at its Melbourne offices and actively guided the company through its preclinical and clinical programmes, with Brandon’s Dr Chris Nave playing a key operational role in Fibrotech’s business development activities and ultimately the sale of the business, accompanying the company’s CEO at all key partnering meetings and through the sale negotiation process.
Dick Smith is the largest consumer electronics chain in Australia and New Zealand by number of stores, with approximately 377 stores in June 2014. Dick Smith employs around 3,700 staff and generated revenues of $1.23 billion in FY2014. Anchorage acquired Dick Smith in November 2012, recognising a significant turnaround opportunity for a business which was considered non-core and underperforming by its previous owner. Despite the structural challenges impacting the retail business, Anchorage considered the causes of underperformance to be fixable, with substantial turnaround upside available. Dick Smith is one of Australia’s most trusted and well-known brands, which since Anchorage’s investment has been revitalised to deliver substantial improvements in financial performance and exciting prospects for future growth.
Cover-More is a specialist and integrated travel insurance and medical assistance provider, with the leading and growing market position in Australia and a growing footprint in Asia. It represents an example of private equity aiding the transition of a business from founder owned business to a broader corporatized business. In 2009, Crescent Capital acquired 80% of Cover-More from the founder of the business. Together with the founder, Crescent embarked on expansion into Asia and investment into new products and new channels to make the life of travellers overseas safer and easier. Over the space of five years, the business expanded the number of employees by a factor of five and the revenue and earnings of the business a factor of three. During the ownership of Crescent Capital, Cover-More significantly diversified its revenue and earnings across geographies, channels and products to become a robust business capable of a strong listing on the ASX. The business has met or exceeded all its
prospectus forecasts and continues to grow and diversify.
Burson Auto Parts
Burson is a leading Australian distributor of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories to the trade repair and service market. The services Burson provides form a critical part in servicing millions of vehicles each year in Australia. Burson strives to deliver the highest quality service to its customers, enabling workshops to service vehicles on a same day basis. Quadrant Private Equity invested into the business in October 2011, and the company was listed on the ASX in April 2014.
Asaleo Care is a market leading personal care and hygiene company. It operated as an Australian and New Zealand subsidiary of SCA, a global hygiene and forest products company headquartered in Sweden. In January 2012, funds advised by Pacific Equity Partners formed a private equity/corporate joint venture with SCA and acquired a 50% equity interest in the Company. Asaleo Care’s earnings have grown by more than 50% since acquisition in January 2012. This performance has been driven by: The appointment of a new management team, a $115m capital investment programme in Australia and New Zealand to improve efficiency and capability, and significant investment in brands and new product development. The business was listed on the ASX in June 2014.
Global Renewables operates an alternative waste treatment facility at Eastern Creek in Sydney. This facility processes 220,000 tonnes annually, or around 15% of Sydney’s mixed household waste, diverting most of it away from landfill by converting the organic fraction to compost. Ironbridge supported major investment in the plant, growing capacity from 150,000 tonnes at acquisition and increasing diversion away from landfill from 60% to 70%. At the same time cash flow was reinvested to improve health and safety and to find alternative uses for the compost produced by the plant.
Rafferty’s Garden is a leading supplier of baby and children’s food. It has grown through product innovation in a market where parents have craved nutritious, well-packaged food. Anacacia Capital helped the company grow, improve babies’ nutrition, and transform the industry by pioneering the use of convenient pouch packaging and premium natural ingredients. At the same time, Anacacia helped the founders bolster the management team to deal with succession while continuing to grow.
Judith Smith is recognised for her long standing contribution to the private capital industry. Judith’s most recent position was Head of Private Equity at IFM Investors and she still holds a position on their investment committee. Prior to her role at IFM, Judith held various investment management roles including more than a decade at National Mutual Funds Management (NMFM). At NMFM, she managed Australian equity research and strategy, as well as Australian equity portfolios including large capitalisation portfolios, specialist small company portfolios and private equity investments. Judith holds a Master of Applied Finance from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Economics (with Honours) from Monash University. She is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia and Graduate member of the AICD. Judith was a long-standing member of the AVCAL Council and a champion for standards and education.
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