3 questions to smart minds

How to find the needle in the haystack?

For this 3 questions to Ralf Schremper

Oakley Capi­tal
Photo: Ralf Schremper
17. Octo­ber 2018

The market for invest­ments in German SMEs is growing dyna­mi­cally. Company valua­tions are rising and access to attrac­tive invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties is beco­ming an incre­asingly important success factor. What stra­te­gies help to find the famous needle — attrac­tive targets — in the haystack? 

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Ralf Schrem­per, Part­ner at Oakley Capi­tal in Munich

1. Oakley Capi­tal opened its Munich office this summer after a whole series of successfully comple­ted tran­sac­tions in Germany. Can you briefly intro­duce the company to us?

To invest in medium-sized compa­nies in Western Europe, Oakley Capi­tal was foun­ded in London in 2002 by Peter Dubens and David Till, two British entre­pre­neurs. Until 2006, the team focu­sed on deve­lo­ping two compa­nies in the TMT indus­try, 365 Mdeia Group plc and Pipex Commu­ni­ca­ti­ons plc. In 2007, the first Oakley fund, Fund I, was laun­ched with a volume of € 288 million. This was follo­wed in 2013 by Fund II with a volume of € 524 million and in 2017 by Fund III with € 800 million. In the mean­time, Oakley Capi­tal mana­ges € 1.5 billion.

Our philo­so­phy: We support outstan­ding indi­vi­du­als in their ventures, work with carefully selec­ted manage­ment teams who think like foun­ders them­sel­ves, and create added value through growth acce­le­ra­tion, targe­ted buy & build stra­te­gies and profes­sio­na­liza­tion. We have proven this in the German market with our invest­ments in Parship Elite, Veri­vox, Inter­ge­nia, Damovo, Schü­ler­hilfe and Career Part­ner Group.

2. The needle in the haystack: How do you get access to attrac­tively valued invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties in the curr­ently very compe­ti­tive invest­ment market?

German SMEs in parti­cu­lar are a globally respec­ted and highly compe­ti­tive segment of our economy. So basi­cally there are many successful and exci­ting compa­nies that still have signi­fi­cant growth poten­tial. In the curr­ently very highly valued market, it is beco­ming incre­asingly diffi­cult to gain exclu­sive access to attrac­tively valued invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. Our focus is clearly on primary tran­sac­tions outside of auctions.

A unique network of company foun­ders and manage­ment teams of former port­fo­lio compa­nies often provi­des us with proprie­tary access to compa­nies and owners. We often acquire from foun­ders or owners who rely on our entre­pre­neu­rial approach and exper­tise in execu­ting complex tran­sac­tions. We are not afraid to roll up our slee­ves and, for exam­ple, support a manage­ment team in a complex spin-off or jointly deve­lop and imple­ment a long-term buy & build stra­tegy. Our proprie­tary network is certainly a key compe­ti­tive advan­tage here. At the same time, Oakley Capi­tal has a clear indus­try focus: tech­no­logy, media and tele­com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons (TMT), consu­mer, and education.

3. How do you then speci­fi­cally create added value in such situa­tions? Can you give an exam­ple to illus­trate this?

Our recent tran­sac­tion with the German company Damovo is a good exam­ple of our speci­fic approach: In 2015, Oakley Capi­tal inves­ted via Fund II in Damovo, a leading global provi­der of infor­ma­tion commu­ni­ca­ti­ons tech­no­logy solu­ti­ons and services head­quar­te­red in Neu-Isen­burg near Frank­furt. The tran­sac­tion was proprie­tary and came through our network — in this case through Matt Riley, a successful UK entre­pre­neur and foun­der of Daisy Group, one of our port­fo­lio compa­nies. We then acqui­red Damovo as part of a complex spin-off in 2015 and sold the company for €140 million in 2018 with double the EBITDA. We were able to achieve attrac­tive gross returns of 5.4x at an IRR of 57% for our investors.

This success was made possi­ble by a series of measu­res initia­ted under our owner­ship: In addi­tion to a realignment of the manage­ment struc­ture through the appoint­ment of two expe­ri­en­ced mana­gers at CEO and CFO level and three stra­te­gic add-on acqui­si­ti­ons, these included prac­ti­cal and opera­tio­nal impro­ve­ment measu­res such as the elimi­na­tion of silos within the company and the estab­lish­ment of Group-wide func­tions as well as the revi­ta­liza­tion of marke­ting and sales. We are convin­ced that we can repeat such invest­ments in the German market, which add value for inves­tors and compa­nies alike. With our Munich office, we are now even closer to the market — and above all to the compa­nies — and look forward to using our network and our entre­pre­neu­rial approach to write new success stories in and with German SMEs.

About Ralf Schremper

Ralf joined Oakley in 2017 and has more than 15 years of M&A and invest­ment expe­ri­ence. He previously served as a Member of the Execu­tive Board and Chief Stra­tegy and Invest­ment Offi­cer of DAX-listed ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE. In this role, he was directly respon­si­ble for the Company’s stra­te­gic acqui­si­ti­ons in recent years, signi­fi­cantly contri­bu­ting to the expan­sion of ProSiebenSat.1’s digi­tal enter­tain­ment and commerce port­fo­lio. Previously, he held senior posi­ti­ons at Bertels­mann, RTL Group, and was foun­der and CEO of an online educa­tion start-up. His sector expe­ri­ence includes media, digi­tal enter­tain­ment & commerce, health­care, and education.

Ralf’s focus at Oakley is on deal origi­na­tion, execu­tion, port­fo­lio manage­ment and posi­tion realisation.

Ralf holds a PhD in Finance (summa cum laude) from Univer­sity of Bochum and a Master in Busi­ness Admi­nis­tra­tion (Diplom-Kauf­mann) from Univer­sity of Cologne.

Subscribe newsletter

Here you can read about the latest transactions, IPOs, private equity deals and venture capital investments, who has raised a new fund, how Buy & Build activities are going.

Get in touch

Contact us!
fyb [at]