Local private equity companies are in for competition from the US-based Riverside Company which has just opened an office in Melbourne.
Riverside Asia Partners has already invested in two local companies in the sub-$US150 million space, and is looking for more in the health, education, franchising, and software sectors.
Simon Feiglin (pictured) is a partner in the Riverside Company which claims to be the world’s leader in the low end of the private-equity middle market of companies with under US$150 million of enterprise value.
Feiglin has returned to his home town of Melbourne to head Riverside’s official push here after dealing with two Australian industry and retail funds for the past five years.
With US$3 billion in funds under management, Riverside has four separate funds: two in North America, one in Europe, and one now in Asia – including Australia – which has just bought two companies in Japan and Korea.
Given that the Australian private equity market is crowded and slow at present, Feiglin is surprisingly candid and optimistic about his company’s prospects. “Our model is unique,” he says. “We’ve been doing this for 22 years, we’ve bought into more than 225 companies, and we have worldwide leverage.
“No one else can offer this to the low-end of the middle-market: worldwide contacts to grow businesses, and operating professionals in finance, human resources, marketing, and operations.”
Riverside’s first local buy-in will be official in 30 days, with the second in the month after that.
Feiglin is bullish on the Australian scene. “The macro trends are very strong, and there’s a vacuum here because other private equity firms have moved out of the space,” he said. “We also look for countries with strong rule of law, and protection of property – and Australia has both of these.”