On May 12, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that Bird & Bird Warsaw had advised Polish Enterprise Fund VI, a private equity fund managed by Enterprise Investors, on the sale of companies from the Wento Group to international energy concern Equinor. CEE In-House Matters spoke with Michal Rusiecki, Managing Partner at Enterprise Investors, to learn more about the sale.
CEEIHM: What is the story of Enterprise Investors?
Michal: Active since 1990, Enterprise Investors is the oldest and one of the largest private equity firms in Central and Eastern Europe. We specialize in mid-market succession-driven buyout transactions and the provision of expansion financing to high-growth enterprises. Typically, we source proprietary deals and invest between EUR 20 million and EUR 75 million in established companies, with our stake ranging from a large minority position to full ownership. We pursue a diversified approach to the industries we invest in, so, in terms of sectors, we are a generalist. Poland accounts for approximately two-thirds of all our investments, while the rest is deployed across the growing economies of the “new” EU. So far, we have exited 135 companies with total gross proceeds of EUR 4.2 billion. This number includes 35 IPOs of portfolio companies on the stock exchanges in Warsaw (WSE), Prague (PSE), Vilnius (Nasdaq), and New York (NYSE).
CEEIHM: What considerations led to the sale of the companies from the Wento Group?
Michal: Under our ownership, Wento became one of the top two developers of utility-scale photovoltaic projects in Poland. To maintain this position and grow even further the company needed capital injections to start building [new] projects [from scratch], rather than simply developing them. But, at that point, our investment horizon was coming to an end and we could not provide the company with additional capital increases, hence the decision to sell.
CEEIHM: What would you say was the most complex aspect of the deal from a legal perspective?
Michal: One of the main challenges we faced when working on this deal was the need to handle simultaneous negotiations with a number of potential buyers. Additionally, Wento was the last investment from our Polish Enterprise Fund VI (vintage 2006), which was undergoing liquidation at the time, so we knew there would be limited recourses after the deal.
CEEIHM: What was Bird & Bird’s mandate and at what stage of the deal were they involved?
Michal: Bird & Bird was the sell-side legal adviser. The firm supported us in July 2020 when we were disposing of the Skoczyklody wind farm, which was part of Wento, and in May this year during our sale of Wento’s photovoltaic platform.
CEEIHM: Why did you choose Bird & Bird as your advisor?
Michal: Bird & Bird has a strong track record of working for private equity firms during M&A transactions. On top of that, we were happy with their performance during last year’s sale of the Skoczyklody wind farm. Therefore, it was an obvious choice for us to continue working with them when it came to selling Wento’s PV platform.