ECONOMY

BC Partners keeps an eye on ventures in Greece

One of the largest venture capital firms in Europe, the UK’s BC Partners, has recently turned its attention to Greece. The British company, which recently earmarked 5.8 billion euros for investments in Europe, is now reportedly seeking opportunities in Greece. This comes just a few weeks after the completion of the most important investment by an international venture capital firm in Greece, the acquisition of TIM Hellas by Britain’s Apax Partners and the American TPG. Nikos Stathopoulos, who until recently worked for Apax and moved some weeks ago to BC Partners, says considerable funds are now available for investment in Europe and therefore in Greece. The experience from the buyout of TIM Hellas shows that international investors would be interested if a similar opportunity in size and interest were to arise again, says Stathopoulos. Yet for such a transaction to be completed (usually based on the leveraged buyout, or LBO, model) there are several conditions to be met: Domestic banks do not suffice for the funding of the buyout, so cooperation with international credit institutions is necessary. Furthermore, domestic credit groups have only limited experience in buyouts through which a listed company gets delisted. The case of TIM Hellas, according to Stathopoulos, is one of the first purchases in Greece where the management gets to participate in the share capital and is called to realize the business plan it has drafted along with the new owners. The strong players of the European venture capital market, such as BC Partners, seek similar opportunities through transactions known as management buyouts (MBOs). Such deals involve the management of the purchased company and are supported by loaned funds that complement the investment by the venture capital fund. Stathopoulos gives an example of European funds’ policy referring to BC Partners’ new fund (BCEC VIII): «About 5.8 billion euros was raised, to be exclusively invested in LBO transactions in Europe. Some 10-20 company buyouts are expected, amounting to a total of 20 billion euros.» The investment period of the new fund stretches to five years and the average amount of each investment will range from 500 million to 1 billion euros. Since being founded, BC Partners has completed 57 investments in Europe, with a total value of about 33 billion euros. They range from health to industry and telecoms.