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Familiar territories

Shaun Middleton By Shaun Middleton,  January 28, 2016

Dunedin and nine other private equity firms have formed the Alliance for Global Growth, the first trans-Atlantic network of private equity firms. Managing Partner Shaun Middleton says it’s all about helping investee companies in an increasingly global world.

Competition is global. The kind of ambitious mid-market businesses that Dunedin invests in have growth aspirations that will take them into new geographies and markets. Helping companies achieve this growth is a key element of the value that we bring to the companies we partner with.

That’s why we have signed up with nine other lower mid-market PE houses in Europe and the US to form a cohesive network, the Alliance for Global Growth. It does exactly what it says on the tin – it is designed to help members’ investee companies grow. It’s not the first time private equity firms have formed networks, but it is the first to cover Europe and the US. Members have offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York and Austin in the US, plus Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and of course the UK.

The businesses that we invest in often have to compete or expand globally. They might be UK market leaders that want to expand or they might be already in some international territories, but need to expand elsewhere. We have assisted many, many companies to make this difficult journey.

International relationships

We can help. For instance, if we were trying to help you recruit a US sales director or manager it’s hard for us to go and recruit that person from the UK. But if we can speak to our friends in the US they will put us in touch with headhunters they really rate. And those headhunters will do a better job for us because we are not a one-off assignment.

We formalised the network in October and began using it immediately. We needed to evaluate a technical part of one of our investee businesses to see whether it was more valuable as part of the group or as a standalone business. An Alliance partner put us in touch with guys who could help us evaluate it properly.

Another of our investee companies was working on acquisitions in Germany. We needed local advisors to help us, our German partner put us in touch with the right lawyers and accountants to help us close that transaction. We wouldn’t have been able to do that as efficiently without these connections. 

It works because we work it

The other level on which it works is to help each other with internal processes and operations. Because none of us compete with each other – we’re in discrete geographical markets – we have the ability to help each other. We’ve been working with one of the network houses for a couple of years, sharing best practice which we can then pass onto our investee companies. 

To make it work, you need an alliance of like-minded people. It’s about interaction and shared vision. At the end of October Alliance for Global Growth held its first conference in Austen, Texas, attended by two or three partners from each of the member general partners. In time we hope to roll out a larger conference that our portfolio companies can attend.

The Alliance members are jointly paying for full-time resource to coordinate with all the members, keep databases and websites up to speed, and connect people and portfolio companies.

It’s a powerful proposition. For example; if we can find the right sales directors to set up a North American subsidiary for one of our portfolio companies, it can double the size of that business. Our American friends may know that Chicago and not New York is the right place to set up a US subsidiary for that particular type of business . These are significant gains that can add real value to your business, saving time and money and avoiding bear traps.

If you would like to talk about how any of these issues relate to your business then please get in touch –

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