Blackwood’s client is one of the largest vending operators in Europe with approximately 250,000 machines sited across 11 territories. The business generates in excess of €100m EBITDA and was acquired recently by a tier 1 global private equity fund. The decision was then taken to supplement the management team with the appointment of a new CFO.
Blackwood worked closely with the CEO and Board of Directors to clearly define the criteria for this appointment. A key requirement was to identify and attract a proven CFO with a track record of transforming the performance of a finance function in a private equity setting. The individual needed to be able to be a commercial business partner to the CEO and build relationships and credibility with the country MDs, many of whom had been integrated into the business through acquisition. Further international M&A experience was anticipated and, as such, the CFO needed to have experience of leading this activity alongside the investor and internal M&A team. It was also noted that the candidate needed to exhibit cultural sensitivity in order to fit into a well-established senior team post the private equity investment. The process was to be managed as a confidential search given sensitivity around the investment.
It was considered that a relatively small pool of suitable candidates existed with successful experience in a privately held business of requisite scale in EMEA. It was also noted that many candidates with such desired experience would likely be tied into a current project and unable to move, or likely to have potentially moved into a plural career. Whilst this ground was covered, it was always considered likely that the actual candidate would have less current private company experience than desired. Large scale LBOs remain highly attractive to a broad range of candidates, including those in larger listed businesses and this audience proved more receptive to the opportunity to enter a private business than those with previous private equity experience. A constant challenge in the assessment process was to find CFO candidates with a demonstrable track record of interacting with the operational side of the business on a daily basis.
Blackwood appointed the former CFO of a leading listed electronic distribution business. The process was completed in 9 weeks from commencement of the assignment and the target company name was only revealed to the finalist three candidates under the terms of a non-disclosure agreement. On resignation the candidate received a counter offer from his previous employer, and Blackwood worked closely between the investor, management team and candidate to manage the effective transition to new role after a notice period. Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.