Hampleton Partners appoints Mike Woods to spearhead FinTech deals

01 June 2018 Consultancy.uk

Senior digital payments expert Mike Woods has joined consultancy Hampleton Partners to lead the firm’s FinTech offering. He joins having spent more than three decades in the British financial sector, as well as multiple roles specialising in Fintech M&A.

Fintechs across various industries are exploring ways in which to pickoff high value segments incumbents, with blockchain projects being increasingly well-funded. The threat and opportunities, created by disruptive FinTech firms has not been lost on market incumbents – with a whole host of actors, from consultancy firms to accelerators seeking to get in on the action. As a result, across Europe, deal activity involving FinTechs remains high, despite worries surrounding the geopolitical status of the continent. In terms of total invested value, the European FinTech scene saw around $4.7 billion last year.

As this trend continues into 2018, consultancies have been working to strengthen their offerings regarding M&A in the FinTech arena, as they prepare to advise clients on their targeted acquisition campaigns. This has most recently seen international technology M&A advisory firm Hampleton Partners strengthen its team with the appointment of digital payments and finance entrepreneur Mike Woods. As the firm’s new Fintech sector Principal, Woods will work to increase Hampleton’s expertise and exposure in one of the most active and highly-valued areas of the market.

Mike Woods, Sector Principal in FinTech - Hampleton

Formed in 2013, Hampleton Partners has matured as a firm alongside the booming FinTech scene, positioning the group at the forefront of international M&A advisory for companies with technology at their core. The firm’s advisors have built, bought and sold over 100 fast-growing tech businesses, while providing international advice to tech entrepreneurs and the companies looking to accelerate growth and maximise value. The company now boasts offices in London, Frankfurt and San Francisco, offering a global perspective for sectors including Automotive Tech, IoT, AI, FinTech, High-Tech Industrials, Cybersecurity, VR/AR, and HealthTech, among others.

Woods arrives at Hampleton from his most recent role as CEO of digital payments company Proxama. He departs following the firm’s merger with Aconite, the software company Woods founded and built into a global payments software solutions business. Woods’ role with Aconite exposed him to all aspects of a software and services company – strategy and planning, marketing, product development and international expansion into the USA and Europe – positioning him well to assist Hampleton moving forward.

His early corporate career also included seven years with the Royal Bank of Scotland – where one of his achievements was the formation of a cross-bank business initiative for e-commerce digital transformation – and a decade long stay with Marks & Spencer, where he was responsible for the European Retail Point of Sale rollout to 350 stores. He also recently co-founded a RegTech firm, Konsentus, at the turn of the year – the company, of which he is CEO, will work with financial institutions to ensure compliance with rapidly shifting EU laws – and became Fintech M&A Senior Advisor and Non-Executive Director with AND Payments – a role which he will continue to fulfil.

Commenting on his appointment, Miro Parizek, founder and Principal Partner at Hampleton said, “The fast and furious pace of Fintech innovation makes it essential to have a highly-experienced and entrepreneurial sector leader in place, who also works successfully with the corporate giants of the financial world. Mike is that leader and I’m thrilled to make him part of the Hampleton team as we expand our international deal-making capabilities in Fintech.”

Woods meanwhile said of his new role as Sector Principal in FinTech, “Having known Miro for more than 15 years and admired what he’s achieved in a short time at Hampleton, I’m excited to be joining this team of hands-on entrepreneurs… There is no more compelling, and potentially profitable, area than Fintech right now. The convergence of digital transformation, open banking and changing customer-demands are driving mega-valuations.”


8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

18 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Embarking on the sale of a business is one of the most challenging experiences a management team can undertake. Even serial dealmakers acknowledge that the transaction process can be gruelling, exposing management to a level of scrutiny and challenge through due diligence that can be distinctly uncomfortable.

So, to embark on a sale process when a business is in distress is twice as challenging. While management is urgently trying to keep the business afloat, they are simultaneously required to prepare it for scrutiny by potential acquirers. Tim Wainwright, an experienced Transactions Partner with Eight Advisory, says that this dual requirement means sellers of distressed businesses must focus on presenting their business in a way that supports buyers in identifying value, whilst simultaneously being open about the causes of distress. 

According to Wainwright, sellers of distressed businesses should focus on eight key aspects to ensure they are as well prepared as possible:

  • Cash: In a distressed situation cash truly is king. Accurate forecasting and day-by-day cash balances are often required to ensure any buyer is confident that scarce cash reserves are under proper control. 
  • Equity story and turnaround plan: Any buyer is going to want to understand the proposed turnaround strategy: how is the business going to enact its recovery and what value can be created that means the distressed business is worth saving? Clear presentation of this strategy is essential.
  • The business model: Clear demonstration of how the business model generates cash is required, with analysis that shows how financial performance will respond to key changes – whether these are positive improvements (e.g., increases in revenue) or emerging risks that further damage the business.  Demonstrating the business is resilient enough to cope with these changes can go a long way to assuring investors there is a viable future.
  • Management team: As outlined above, this is a challenging process. The management team are in it together and need to be consistent in presenting the turnaround. Above all, the team needs to be open about the underlying causes that resulted in the distressed situation arising.  A defensive management team who fail to acknowledge root causes of distress are unlikely to resolve the situation.

8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

  • Financing: More than in any traditional transaction, distressed businesses need to understand the impact on working capital. The distressed situation frequently results in costs rising as credit insurance becomes more difficult to obtain or as customers and suppliers reduce credit. Understanding how these unwind will be important to the potential investors.
  • Employees: Any restructuring programme can be difficult for employees. Maintaining open communications and respecting the need for consultation is the basic requirement. In successful turnarounds, employees are often deeply engaged in designing and developing solutions. Demonstrating a supportive, flexible employee base can often support the sale process.
  • Structuring: Understanding how to structure the business for the proposed acquisition can add significant value. Where possible, asset sales may be preferred, enabling buyers to move forward with limited liabilities. However, impacts on customers, employees and other stakeholders need to be considered.
  • Off balance sheet assets: In the course of selling a distressed business, additional attention is often given to communicating the value of items that may not be fully valued in the financial statements. Brands, intellectual property and historic tax losses are all examples of items that may be of significant value to a purchaser. Highlighting these aspects can make an acquisition more appealing.

“These eight focus areas can help to sell a distressed business and are important in reaching a successful outcome, but it should be noted that it will remain a challenging process,” Wainwright explains. 

With recent studies indicating that the valuation of distressed business is trending north. With increased appetite from buyers who are accustomed to taking on these situations, it is likely that more distressed deals will be seen in the coming months. “Preparing management teams as best as possible for delivering these will be key to ensuring these businesses can pass on to new owners who can hopefully drive the restructuring required to see these succeed,” Wainwright added.