Monika SKÓRKA, Audit Partner and Katarzyna BUDA, Transaction Advisory Manager, several days ago participated in a forum devoted to private equity funds in Poland as well as in the Central Europe/Eastern Europe area. A meeting with managing partners, investment directors, transactional investors as well as advisors has allowed for an exchange of experiences and observations among the members of this event.
The forum consisted of several discussion panels moderated by known people from the PE and VC world. The event started with a discussion of managing partners concerning the methods used when looking for investment-worthy entities. Next, there was a panel on looking for sources of investment and best practices related to them. Parallely, there was a part on the competitiveness of the Central European and Eastern European markets as well as the biggest challenges for PE and VC in the region. Moreover, the dilemmas small and medium-sized companies, called SMEs, have to face, were discussed. The PE and VC partners have remarked that the knowledge related to PE as well as VC investment in SMEs is insufficient among the company owners, and those who have such knowledge exhibit significant distrust. What was also discussed was how PE might fit into the small- and medium-sized companies in order to create added value and bring help to those who need it. A very common subject of family-owned company as well as quasi-family-owned company succession was also touched upon. What was emphasised was that those are not only companies which have been built for years by family members, but also by friends and business partners. It was indicated that funds might play a significant role in the process of succession.
During the event, the subject of newly-founded companies, the so-called start-ups, was touched upon, and after the lunch break two meetings started parallely - the first one concerned the upside and the downside of limited partnerships, and the other one - the creation of value by investment funds. According to PE partners speaking during the panel, among the entrepreneurs and investors, there are a lot of 'fund sceptics' who think that PE and VC are a perfect financial investor, but they do not see the added value of co-operation targeted at managing an enterprise or taking strategic or operational decisions.
Discussion panels which concluded the forum touched upon the issues of the environment regulating the activity of investment funds and capital markets, as well as the issue of the Board and the supervisory board involvement in managing a company which is partially at the hands of the fund. To some surprise, during the last panel, the issue of women's involvement in the around-the-fund activity was discussed.
According to the list of participants, around 300 people took part in the event.