3 questions to smart minds
Photo: Nils von Wietzlow

New family holdings outpace private equity firms

For this 3 questions to Nils von Wietzlow

Multi Family Holding LIBERTA PARTNERS
Photo: Nils von Wietzlow
9. Febru­ary 2021

New (multi-)family holdings like Viess­mann (VC/O), Leo Fami­lien Holding, Magnus Holding stand out with nume­rous invest­ments in short time, stron­gly digi­ta­li­zed proces­ses, long holding peri­ods and young manage­ment teams. How did they come about and what are their strengths?

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Nils von Wietz­low, Part­ner of the young Multi Family Holding LIBERTA PARTNERS in Munich

1. You and your part­ners are all under 40, raised a >EUR 50M fund from private inves­tors in 2019, and then made 4 invest­ments very quickly. How did Liberta Part­ners come into being?

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.

2. What are the strengths of Liberta Partners?

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.

3. The gene­ra­tio­nal change in the PE sector seems to be in the middle of its course. What distin­gu­is­hes the new gene­ra­tion of invest­ment managers?

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.

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