If only Juicero had met Nelson Peltz.
The much hyped fruit disrupter threw in the towel last week on its $400 fruit-squeezing device. If Peltz, the legendary activist investor, had his way at Procter & Gamble, the consumer titan would have taken a serious look at Juicero as an M&A target. (Here’s Alphaville on the death of Juicero.)
In a 90+ page presentation released late on Wednesday, Peltz argued, among other things, that P&G needs to “make M&A a growth strategy and a core competency”. Unilever, as one example, acquired Dollar Shave Club for $1bn, one of the hot millennial brands that are eating the lunch of lumbering old-schoolers like P&G’s Gillette.
Here’s Lex’s take on the letter. According to Peltz, P&G has spent just 0.2 per cent of its enterprise value on M&A since 2011 — about $500m.
As he notes, the company had spent nearly $70bn in the previous 20 years on Iams, Clairol, Wella, Fekkai and Gillette, which were mostly flops. But rather than giving up, P&G has no choice but to source, execute and integrate new brands.
He makes a broader attack on P&G culture that he says has prevented accretive dealmaking. It’s a provocative thesis from an activist to suggest that companies do something other than return cash to shareholders or sell out.
Activist bête noire Marty Lipton, from law firm Wachtell, who has built a lucrative franchise on rejecting shareholder agitation, wrote a memo on Thursday somewhat sympathetic to Peltz’s constructive approach.
Still, the conglomerates that have successfully identified start-ups and turned them into successful businesses are few and far between. Passing on companies such as Juicero is also a core competency.
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The curious tale of Anoa Capital and Lars Windhorst
When Etihad Airways was trying to devise a novel way to fund the airlines in its partners network — which included perennially struggling carriers Air Berlin and Alitalia — who did they turn to?
You’d probably expect the top role to go to a bulge bracket investment bank or a widely lauded advisory boutique.
After all, the “EA Partners” bond deal that eventually emerged in late 2015 was so important to Etihad that then-chief executive James Hogan personally led the investor roadshow across Europe and the Middle East.
But instead the Abu Dhabi airline turned to Anoa Capital, an obscure Luxembourg brokerage that employs less than 20 people, which now has its UK branch registered to an office above a jeweller’s shop in the commuter town of Sevenoaks in Kent.
And now that both Air Berlin and Alitalia have fallen into insolvency, holders of the $1.2bn EA Partners bonds may find their fortunes in the hands of Anoa.
While Anoa Capital might not ring bells with many people beyond the niche world of illiquid debt trading, one person linked with it is rather more famous: Lars Windhorst, the one-time teenage prodigy and poster boy for entrepreneurship in his native Germany, who presided over several company insolvencies, a personal bankruptcy and received a suspended jail sentence in 2009.
Just a few years ago, Windhorst was talking up his latest comeback story, having successfully courted UK establishment figures such as Lord Mandelson to join the board of his Sapinda investment vehicle.
Now Windhorst and Sapinda entities have faced lawsuits from multiple investors, which have led to some of his assets being seized. And according to a recent corporate filing he recently stepped down as managing director of Sapinda Holding.
To read more check out Robert Smith and Cynthia O’Murchu’s story here.
Bell Pottinger: End of the road?
A quick update on the troubles afflicting Bell Pottinger, the prominent London-based public and corporate relations firm, after two reports determined that it had stoked racial tensions in South Africa in its work on behalf of the powerful Gupta family. If you haven’t been following the situation, you can catch up by reading Tuesday’s DD here.
On Thursday, staff at the firm were informed that the company is likely to go into administration as soon as next week after efforts to find a rescue buyer failed. Bell Pottinger has been working with accountants BDO to find new investments even as clients and staff depart. Read our latest story on the situation here.
The news came a day after it emerged that John Sunnucks, one of Bell Pottinger’s most senior account managers and a contender to become the next chief executive, had left the firm.
And here’s what Lex had to say this week on the saga and the financial PR industry in general.
Lazard has hired Tim Loftsgard as a managing director in financial advisory. He will be based in Toronto and will focus on natural resources and diversified sectors. Loftsgard previously worked at RBC Capital Markets for 18 years.
Standard Chartered has hired three new vice-chairs for corporate and investment banking in Asia, Europe and North America. Yang Chang-Po, joining from Goldman Sachs, will take the role for Asia and will be based in Hong Kong. The Europe and North America positions will be held by Sean Verity and Jonathan Bewes, respectively. Verity was a member of the operating committee for BNY Mellon and Bewes has worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS and Flemings.
The collapse of a bet on the RMB’s collapse Mark Hart spent seven years and $240m waiting for a 50 per cent crash in the Chinese renminbi. He never got that and finally gave up. (Bloomberg)
Tycoon dissident Guo Wengui, the Chinese billionaire recently sued by HNA Group for claiming the acquisitive conglomerate was connected to the country’s top leadership, has applied for asylum in the US. (NYT)
Big Oil bets on a dash for gas Producers are investing heavily in LNG projects to compete with wind and solar. But is too much capacity being added? (FT)
Patrick Drahi won’t take no for an answer A look at the French cable billionaire and his Altice empire. (Bloomberg)
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