The ability to execute European-headquartered global, pan-European, and domestic complex deals speaks to Platinum Equity’s commitment and deployment of resources in Europe.
With the early 2022 acquisition of Leaders Romans Group, a UK-based property service firm, Platinum’s European portfolio includes: Spain-headquartered global environmental services leader Urbaser and global frozen seafood company Iberconsa, European vacation rentals group Awaze, European private label sweet biscuits manufacturer Biscuit International, Italy-based global marine contractor De Wave Group and global wine distributor Fantini Group Vini.
Platinum Equity Partner Louis Samson highlighted the firm’s European focus after the $4.2 billion agreement to acquire Urbaser was announced last year.
“Urbaser is another important addition to Platinum’s growing portfolio of operating companies headquartered in Spain and is a direct reflection of our commitment to investing in the European market,” Samson said. “We have had great success delivering divestiture solutions to sellers in Europe and creating value across a wide range of industries.”
A commitment that started 20 years ago has grown to thirty professionals with European headquarters based in London. There are more than 60,000 portfolio employees across the eight active investments. Since 2002, there have been 56 European transactions combining for a valuation of more than $17 billion. Since 2021, Platinum has completed nearly $6 billion in total transactions in Europe.
Platinum Equity executives were asked recently to give more insight into the firm’s operations-focused strategy in an increasingly competitive market.
(Answers have been edited for length and clarity).
Samson on Platinum’s European strategy: “We’ve really supercharged the effort in the last five to seven years. We’ve built the foundation of a team that can grow to become what we’ve built in North America. It’s an approach that’s a little less opportunistic and more deliberate with a foundation that can take us to the degree of velocity and importance in the market that we’ve reached in North America. We’ve reached a degree of relevance and have very high ambitions for the European office.”
Managing Director Igor Chacartegui on Madrid-based Urbaser acquisition: “Being there, present in Spain, was vital to building trust because the CFO of (seller) China Tianying was sent to Spain for a three-month period to deliver this deal. (Metaphorically) holding hands with them, and with the company, we understand was critical for them to choose us as a partner to go into exclusivity, essentially six weeks before we got a deal signed.”
Principal Ramzi Itani on culture and understanding: “To be successful in the industry that we work in, you must be able to address cultural nuance. To be really close to the seller, to be close to the management team, you need to be able to converse in their own language. As we’ve built the team here, we’ve filled in some of the gaps that we had with executives that can speak French or Spanish or Italian, and I think that’s really helped us be more successful at that final point of getting a deal done.”
Managing Director Malik Vorderwuelbecke on firm’s evolution: “Over the past decade, Platinum didn’t sit still, we developed and evolved the skillset to tackle ever more complex deals, and more comprehensive transformations. If you look at the deals we do today vs. the deals we did back then, we have shifted from looking at smaller opportunities, maybe more cost-focused opportunities, to looking at market-leading businesses with excellent management teams, very defensible profiles.”
Samson on what’s next: “Our aspirations in Europe really are to replicate our North American business. We’re building our business to be viewed as a reliable partner.”