New family holdings outpace private equity firms
Two of my partners had already founded Liberta in 2016 as a smaller, operational multi-family holding company. In 2019, another partner and I joined us, and in the same year we convinced a number of well-known family offices and private investors — many our age — to invest in our fund. The four of us knew each other from our professional and private lives before we joined forces to make Liberta Partners even more professional and sustainable and to grow it overall. We had all previously worked at different investment companies and had discussed investment strategies, corporate development and our shared value construct frequently and intensively in advance. We complement each other well in terms of our experience and skills, and today we benefit greatly from the fact that we have known each other for so long.
In our search for suitable investments, we focus on corporate spin-offs and succession situations. We are looking for companies that are active in an interesting market and have operational development potential. On average, we are offered about 350 companies per year. Particularly in the early days, we placed great emphasis on standardizing internal processes so that we could quickly focus on the right companies. We have already succeeded in closing four transactions in the first 18 months.
We are goal-oriented, consistent and fast in implementation due to very efficient processes. We support our portfolio companies with a highly operational approach, taking advantage of all the opportunities that digitization affords us.
Another focus is the topic of human resources (HR). Our first addition to the Corporate Development team was therefore an HR Director. On the one hand, we see certain risks in this area due to the increasing shortage of skilled workers, which we must address together with our portfolio companies, but we also see enormous opportunities if we find the right employees and develop them in a targeted manner. In the case of carve-outs from large corporations, the issue of cultural “change” on the way to becoming an independent medium-sized company also plays a decisive role.
In order to be able to really implement our “100% Core & Care” approach, we now have seven employees in the Corporate Development Team. In addition to HR & Organization, the focus is on Strategy & Operations, Finance & Controlling and Legal Support. In this way, we can help our local companies to jointly implement the defined strategy and concrete measures. Internally, we are also focusing on the opportunities offered by digitization. For example, we use Salesforce as a CRM tool to manage our deal flow and Personio as a software for HR management and recruiting. The switch to home office due to the Corona pandemic also went without major complications. Mircrosoft Teams, which is now an integral part of our internal communications, has been particularly helpful in this respect.
The investment market is competitive and how you develop your portfolio companies is now more important than ever. Therefore, we believe that to be sustainably successful in this market today, you need an operational approach, a strong team and a good network. — In addition, flexibility in holding periods is increasing. At Liberta, we also have a more flexible approach here, which allows us to hold the portfolio companies longer than traditional private equity funds.
At Liberta, we have firmly defined values that we live by both internally and in our portfolio companies. With us, it’s not the position or seniority that counts, but the better argument. We have flat hierarchies and live open communication. We usually (and as soon as the Corona Pandemic allows it again) sit in a loft used as an open-plan office in Munich’s Univiertel. This “start-up” atmosphere helps us immensely to discuss topics quickly and without complications.
About Nils von Wietzlow
Nils von Wietzlow, 39, has more than 15 years of experience in corporate investments, M&A and corporate financing. Between 2013 and 2019, he worked as a partner at ARCUS Capital. Prior to that, he worked for the private equity firm First Reserve in London and before that for several years at Merrill Lynch in the M&A department. Nils von Wietzlow studied business administration at the Universities of Maastricht in the Netherlands, Bocconi in Italy and Escuela de Alta Dirección y Administración (EADA) in Spain. He is on the advisory board of a medium-sized print shop and actively supports its strategic development.
About Liberta Partners
Liberta Partners is a multi-family holding company based in Munich. Liberta Partners invests in companies in German-speaking countries with clear operational and strategic development potential, especially in succession situations and corporate spin-offs. These are actively developed as part of the long-term “100% Core & Care” concept and benefit from Liberta Partners’ innovative entrepreneurial understanding. Liberta Partners’ team currently consists of 12 employees working in M&A, Operations and Legal, as well as an active Industry Advisory Board. www.liberta-partners.com