A Fund on the Side of Italian FirmsGUIDO VESIN, MBA ALUMNUS AND FOUNDER OF THE ANTARES FUND TO HELP COMPANIES OVERCOME THE CRISIS, FOCUSES ON INNOVATION IN THE FIELD OF PRIVATE EQUITY BY COMBINING INVESTMENTS, NETWORK DEVELOPMENT AND CONSULTING. STARTING FROM THE LUXURY INDUSTRY, A FUNDAMENTAL SECTOR OF THE ITALIAN ECONOMY
The crisis induced by the health emergency has hit companies in a different way compared to the past, dragging even industrially healthy companies into economic difficulties, sometimes even those with a positive EBITDA. Today the financial world, considered by many to be responsible for the 2008 crisis, therefore has an opportunity for redemption, offering the various actors involved, from entrepreneurs to banks, new solutions to existing problems. “To offer help, however, you first need to know what is needed,” says Guido Vesin, with a past at Bocconi as MBA student and professor, and a present as entrepreneur and founder of the private equity fund Antares. "This is why I think that today, even in the context of a fund, help to an entrepreneur means not only bringing fresh capital, but also professionals who have industrial and industry skills capable of supporting him/her in business development as well".
How is it possible to combine the need to make profits with the desire to help the whole system of firms to get up and start running again?
In general, this is the basic principle of private capital, you make money only if you manage to turn profitable the companies you invest in. Today, however, different needs emerge, at the origin of which there are problems of management or size with respect to the market. The objective of a fund can also thus become that of creating new combinations, new synergies between companies, for example. At the same time, recovery is also needed to help banks deal with loans that are in difficulty but not yet actually non-performing, since they concern companies that have every chance to return to profit.
To achieve all this is it necessary to imagine new products or can existing ones be adapted?
We have chosen the path of innovation, creating a new fund dedicated to luxury and lifestyle companies that has two compartments: one in which the credits of banks towards companies in the sector are conferred and another in which flows of investors converge. The novelty is that the management team is composed of managers who have worked in in top positions of companies in the sector for more than thirty years. This allows us to bring not only finances, but contacts, professionalism, strategies and networks, the latter being fundamental, for example, to relaunch a company from a commercial point of view or open new market channels through digital.
What response have you received from the investors and entrepreneurs involved?
We have had a very positive response and we plan to launch in the first half of 2021. Investors like the fund, in addition to the industrial skills of the team, for two other reasons: compared to traditional private capital funds, here when they underwrite the financial commitment, they already know the companies that make up the portfolio, and therefore do not invest solely based on the track-record of the management team. Furthermore, the duration of the fund is six years, less than traditional funds which provide for five years of investment plus five years of divestment. The operation, however, also pleases entrepreneurs because they feel that a relaunch operation is really being carried out, providing them with a capable team, able to talk to shareholders and management as equals, speaking the same language, with an approach that is non-financial but rather rooted in daily business experience. This closeness between investors and entrepreneurs is the added value that makes the whole difference today.
Why did you start from the Luxury & Lifestyle industry?
We have chosen this sector because it is very important for the Italian economy and commands a know-how of skills and creativity which is still recognized internationally and which foreign luxury groups tap into. Quality is therefore not lacking, but there is too much fragmentation of the supply chain with too many small firms that today are no longer competitive. The goal, therefore, is to help these companies emerge from the current crisis, by also creating new aggregations and synergies to restore strength and resilience to the entire industrial system.
A degree in Law and a professional debut in London's investment banks, with a career in investment banking and corporate finance in large organizations such as Banca Euromobiliare, E&Y, Deloitte, Banca Akros, Guido Vesin is one of the founding partners of Antares, a private capital fund. He was a grad student at SDA Bocconi School of Management ("I attended the MBA in 1992, the first class which offered a program entirely in English. It was a very useful experience because I learned how to valuate a company from both a managerial and a financial point of view, and to do it thoroughly, a fundamental skill for my subsequent activity as an entrepreneur”) and contract professor at Bocconi's business school for a long period.
by Emanuele Elli
Translated by Alex Foti