Warburg Pincus dealmaker sees Brexit as ‘huge’ chance for deals
Brexit may have sown chaos in U.K. politics, but at least one private equity firm is enthusiastic about the potential it creates for deals.
“We see Brexit as a huge opportunity for deals and are getting very excited about investments in the U.K.,” said Dan Zilberman, head of Europe at Warburg Pincus. “However, a deal bonanza is contingent on the U.K. leaving the European Union with a deal.”
The risk of the U.K. leaving the European Union without a deal has fallen since Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured an Oct. 17 agreement with the bloc’s leaders, although a coming general election has added a degree of unpredictability. The pound has since rallied substantially as traders bet the risk of a messy divorce is receding. The U.K. currency traded around $1.29 on Tuesday, up more than 5% from its October low.
“I can underwrite good news, I can underwrite bad news, but what I can’t underwrite is volatility,” Zilberman said in an interview at the firm’s Berlin office opened in October. “Once that uncertainty is resolved, there is a point of capitulation where sellers will look to sell, giving us the opportunity to invest in companies that went underdeveloped and were underinvested.”
Opportunities can come through corporate carveouts, buyouts of publicly-traded firms or acquiring portfolio companies of other private equity firms, according to Zilberman. New York-based Warburg will be able to give such companies the “TLC” they need, he said.
Buyers have announced almost $149 billion of mergers and acquisitions targeting U.K.-based companies this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s down from a record $406 billion of deals in 2015, the year before the Brexit vote.
In 1983, Warburg became the first U.S. private equity firm to make a commitment in Europe, according to its website. It has committed $4.6 billion to Europe since 2015, making 22 investments and selling 11 businesses.
Warburg and Apax Partners agreed in March to buy satellite operator Inmarsat Plc in one of the biggest-ever transactions to take a U.K.-listed company private. The British government approved the transaction in October after the consortium offered undertakings to mitigate national security risks.
Network International Holdings Plc, a payments processor backed by Warburg, completed a London initial public offering in April that raised 1.2 billion pounds ($1.6 billion). In June, Warburg agreed to sell Inexio, a provider of fiber-optic broadband networks in Germany, to EQT AB.