Guten Tag, this is Jan-Henrik and Benjamin in Berlin. We’re here for SuperReturn, probably the world’s best-known gathering of private equity practitioners and their investors.
Today’s top stories
- Icahn threatens legal action against Southwest Gas.
- Engie-led consortium to buy Spanish renewables firm Eolia.
- Sika to buy construction chemicals rival MBCC for $6 billion.
- How much can a banker get by jumping ship? It depends.
Conference of bulls
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit once described the German capital as “poor but sexy.” Less than 20 years after he uttered those words, the second is at least still true. — Jan-Henrik Foerster and Benjamin Robertson
Because if you were to stick your head into the InterContinental hotel on Budapester Strasse this week, you’d witness probably the mother of all speed-dating events in financial services.
After a pandemic delay, SuperReturn is underway. And the 2021 gathering of private equity firms and the institutions that give them money comes amid the hottest period for dealmaking and fundraising on record.
Against this backdrop, the mood on the ground is unsurprisingly positive, with PE execs waxing lyrical about roaring returns, raisings and — to capture the zeitgeist — their ESG credentials. There are more PE managers than investors around, with 10 to 20 meetings a day pretty standard.
Silver Lake managing partner Joe Osnoss kicked things off with a talk about tech valuations and his firm’s approach to deals, which I took to be: focus on fundamentals and growth, and not just trends, and you’ll be fine.
He’ll be hoping that a fundamental desire to get back to seeing the world will pay off for two Silver Lake bets made just as Covid-19 was taking hold last year: Expedia and Airbnb.
“It’s a fundamental part of human lifestyle,” Osnoss said of travel.
KKR partner Philipp Freise offered a similar take on doing deals at present.
“If you are picking the right themes the opportunity to generate growth has never been better,” Freise said, adding that he’d been surprised that other firms didn’t follow KKR’s pace of investing during the downturn.
“The confidence to invest behind those themes during the pandemic was relatively lonely quite frankly,” he said.
To be sure, there have been those sounding notes …….