Investment Insight
  •  
Jul 2019
Sharpening an Innovative Edge in Private Equity
 

Investment Insight

Sharpening an Innovative Edge in Private Equity

Sharpening an Innovative Edge in Private Equity

Share Icon

Jul 2019

 
 

Private equity investing has evolved beyond the days of buy low and sell high. Now the focus is on transforming portfolio companies into category-leading platforms.

 
 

Private equity investment managers have typically sought to generate returns without the short-term uncertainties and market cycles that propel public markets. Ideally, the ability to identify promising companies, provide guidance to execute strategic plans and improve operations gives private equity investors a greater degree of control over investment outcomes.

“It’s not about stock-watching. It’s about investing in promising businesses that require capital for transformation,” says Aaron Sack, head of Morgan Stanley Capital Partners. “Every year, thousands of middle-market businesses in the U.S. are seeking investors—many growing well in excess of GDP.”

However, the private equity landscape is changing. Amid high valuations and increasing competition in the middle-market arena, investment managers need to go beyond the traditional private equity playbook of buying low and selling high, or making minor operational changes that amount to a fresh coat of paint.

Instead, Sack says, the newest iteration of private equity means seeking to improve company quality by combining operational precision with strategic vision—then building value through acquisition.

 
 

Taking Operations into the Weeds

There was a time when private equity firms plied their trade buying companies at a discount and flipping them for a profit. That approach has evolved considerably over the past decade, as more firms have embraced an increasingly hands-on approach—the operating model—though to varying degrees.

Typically, the old approach meant appointing industry experts to the board to provide big-picture advice. However, it came with limitations, particularly for small and midsized companies. “Founders and management teams at middle-market companies are focused on running the day-to-day business,” says Sack, “They often don’t have the bandwidth to execute a new strategy, let alone identify possible acquisitions or strategic partners along the way.”

As such, the next generation of private equity must drive operational change at many levels and from many angles. One method of accomplishing this change—which is becoming increasingly prevalent in the industry and which Morgan Stanley Capital Partners helped pioneer—is by including operating partners with industry-specific expertise to actively advise the senior team. These professionals take the lead on mapping out and giving advice that is critical to the execution of strategic plans for portfolio companies in their respective areas.

“At the earliest stages of each investment, we work with management to guide the development of a value creation plan focused on the handful of initiatives we believe will be most impactful,” says Sack. “We ensure we’re aligned on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each,” he adds, “and then meticulously track these to assess progress toward specific goals.”

Yet, a great strategy does little good if it’s diluted or derailed by poor execution. Recognizing this, Morgan Stanley Capital Partners is taking the operational model to the company level, with team members who work alongside company management and leverage their business experience to advise on implementing the highly bespoke strategic plans.

“These professionals, whom we call ‘accelerators,’ play a critical role in guiding a value creation plan through and, just as importantly, identifying ways to potentially improve it or modify it to reflect changes, challenges or opportunities that come up along the way, and sharing those with senior management,” says Sack. “We think our ‘accelerator’ program is unique, in the way that it reinforces the operational vision led by management and our operating partners but empowers management to accomplish these objectives with on-the-ground resources not previously available to them.”

Whereas traditional private equity firms often look to buy out owners and replace top management, this model strives to be collaborative, incentivizing founders and key employees to work toward a common goal.

 
 

Unlocking Untapped Potential

Sack believes this operating model is particularly powerful when applied to middle-market companies, which represent a large, diverse and undercapitalized segment. “The middle-market universe is wide-ranging and can offer greater opportunities to add value,” Sack says. “And in many cases, these companies are seeking institutional capital for the first time.”

While these companies tend to have proven track records in their respective industries, they can offer a good deal of upside. Even small enhancements to their operations and strategy can profoundly improve their profitability and growth. “There are so many opportunities to transform businesses of this size,” he adds, “and you can work to do this independent of what’s happening in the broader economy.”

Turning Success into a Platform

There are many ways for private equity teams to potentially achieve strong results with individual, stand-alone acquisitions. Yet, arguably, the real potential for generating alpha comes from building on the success of one company to create a platform for add-on deals.

“When we pursue opportunities to add to these thriving businesses, each acquisition brings the potential to further reduce costs and drive new revenue streams,” says Sack. Having accelerators actively advising the company, he adds, is key for identifying, vetting and integrating acquisitions.

Whatever the industry, a platform approach opens doors to acquire smaller firms—potentially at attractive valuations—and apply a cohesive strategy that drives earnings growth and lowers average acquisition costs.

“Success in private equity isn’t just about finding the right companies, refining operations or finding accretive acquisitions, it’s about bringing together all of those components so that whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” says Sack. “That is the real difference in creating value versus simply looking for it.”

 
 

Alternative investments are speculative and include a high degree of risk. Investors could lose all or a substantial amount of their investment. Alternative investments are suitable only for long-term investors willing to forego liquidity and put capital at risk for an indefinite period of time. Alternative investments are typically highly illiquid – there is no secondary market for private funds, and there may be restrictions on redemptions or assigning or otherwise transferring investments into private funds. Alternative investment funds often engage in leverage and other speculative practices that may increase volatility and risk of loss. Alternative investments typically have higher fees and expenses than other investment vehicles, and such fees and expenses will lower returns achieved by investors.

All information provided has been prepared solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell any particular security or to adopt any specific investment strategy. The information herein has not been based on a consideration of any individual investor circumstances and is not investment advice, nor should it be construed in any way as tax, accounting, legal or regulatory advice. To that end, investors should seek independent legal and financial advice, including advice as to tax consequences, before making any investment decision.  There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions, and each investor should evaluate their ability to invest for the long-term, especially during periods of downturn in the market.

Any views and opinions provided are those of the portfolio management team and are subject to change at any time due to market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. Furthermore, the views will not be updated or otherwise revised to reflect information that subsequently becomes available or circumstances existing, or changes occurring. The views expressed do not reflect the opinions of all portfolio managers at Morgan Stanley Investment Management or the views of the firm as a whole, and may not be reflected in all the strategies and products that the Firm offers.

Diversification does not protect you against a loss in a particular market; however it allows you to spread that risk across various asset classes.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

In the ordinary course of its business, Morgan Stanley engages in a broad spectrum of activities including, among others, financial advisory services, investment banking, asset management activities and sponsoring and managing private investment funds. In engaging in these activities, the interest of Morgan Stanley may conflict with the interests of clients.

Funds of funds often have a higher fee structure than single manager funds as a result of the additional layer of fees. Alternative investment funds are often unregulated, are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds, and are not required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information to investors. The investment strategies described in the preceding pages may not be suitable for your specific circumstances; accordingly, you should consult your own tax, legal or other advisors, at both the outset of any transaction and on an ongoing basis, to determine such suitability.

A separately managed account may not be suitable for all investors. Separate accounts managed according to the Strategy include a number of securities and will not necessarily track the performance of any index. Please consider the investment objectives, risks and fees of the Strategy carefully before investing. A minimum asset level is required. For important information about the investment manager, please refer to Form ADV Part 2.

No investment should be made without proper consideration of the risks and advice from your tax, accounting, legal or other advisors as you deem appropriate.

The information on this page is solely for informational purposes only. It is intended for the benefit of third party issuers and those seeking information about alternatives investment strategies. The information contained herein does not constitute and should not be construed as an offering of advisory services or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities, insurance or other laws of such jurisdiction.

All investing involves risks, including a loss of principal. Alternative investments are speculative and involve a high degree of risk. These investments are designed for investors who understand and are willing to accept these risks. Performance may be volatile, and an investor could lose all or a substantial portion of his or her investment.

Distribution

This communication is only intended for and will only be distributed to persons resident in jurisdictions where such distribution or availability would not be contrary to local laws or regulations.

Ireland: Morgan Stanley Investment Management (Ireland) Limited. Registered Office: The Observatory, 7-11 Sir John Rogerson's, Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland. Registered in Ireland under company number 616662.  Regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. United Kingdom: Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England. Registered No. 1981121. Registered Office: 25 Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 4QA, authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Dubai: Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited (Representative Office, Unit Precinct 3-7th Floor-Unit 701 and 702, Level 7, Gate Precinct Building 3, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, 506501, United Arab Emirates. Telephone: +97 (0)14 709 7158). Germany: Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited Niederlassung Deutschland 4th Floor Junghofstrasse 18-26, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany (Gattung: Zweigniederlassung (FDI) gem. § 53b KWG). Italy: Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited, Milan Branch (Sede Secondariadi Milano) is a branch of Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited, a company registered in the UK, authorisedand regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and whose registered office is at 25 Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 4QA. Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited Milan Branch (Sede Secondariadi Milano) with seat in Palazzo Serbelloni Corso Venezia, 16 20121 Milano, Italy, is registered in Italy with company number and VAT number 08829360968. The Netherlands: Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Rembrandt Tower, 11th Floor Amstelplein 1 1096HA, Netherlands. Telephone: 31 2-0462-1300. Morgan Stanley Investment Management is a branch office of Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited. Morgan Stanley Investment Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom. Switzerland: Morgan Stanley & Co. International plc, London, Zurich Branch Authorised and regulated by the Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht ("FINMA"). Registered with the Register of Commerce Zurich CHE-115.415.770. Registered Office: Beethovenstrasse33, 8002 Zurich, Switzerland, Telephone +41 (0) 44 588 1000. Facsimile Fax: +41(0) 44 588 1074.

U.S.

A separately managed account may not be suitable for all investors. Separate accounts managed according to the Strategy include a number of securities and will not necessarily track the performance of any index. Please consider the investment objectives, risks and fees of the Strategy carefully before investing. A minimum asset level is required. For important information about the investment manager, please refer to Form ADV Part 2.

Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the funds carefully before investing. The prospectuses contain this and other information about the funds. To obtain a prospectus please download one at morganstanley.com/im or call 1-800-548-7786. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Morgan Stanley Distribution, Inc. serves as the distributor for Morgan Stanley Funds.

NOT FDIC INSURED | OFFER NO BANK GUARANTEE | MAY LOSE VALUE | NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY | NOT A DEPOSIT

Hong Kong: This document has been issued by Morgan Stanley Asia Limited for use in Hong Kong and shall only be made available to “professional investors” as defined under the Securities and Futures Ordinance of Hong Kong (Cap 571). The contents of this document have not been reviewed nor approved by any regulatory authority including the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong. Accordingly, save where an exemption is available under the relevant law, this document shall not be issued, circulated, distributed, directed at, or made available to, the public in Hong Kong. Singapore: This document should not be considered to be the subject of an invitation for subscription or purchase, whether directly or indirectly, to the public or any member of the public in Singapore other than (i) to an institutional investor under section 304 of the Securities and Futures Act, Chapter 289 of Singapore (“SFA”), (ii) to a “relevant person" (which includes an accredited investor) pursuant to section 305 of the SFA, and such distribution is in accordance with the conditions specified in section 305 of the SFA; or (iii) otherwise pursuant to, and in accordance with the conditions of, any other applicable provision of the SFA. This material has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore Australia: This publication is disseminated in Australia by Morgan Stanley Investment Management (Australia) Pty Limited ACN: 122040037, AFSL No. 314182, which accepts responsibility for its contents. This publication, and any access to it, is intended only for “wholesale clients” within the meaning of the Australian Corporations Act. Japan: For professional investors, this document is circulated or distributed for informational purposes only. For those who are not professional investors, this document is provided in relation to Morgan Stanley Investment Management (Japan) Co., Ltd. (“MSIMJ”)’s business with respect to discretionary investment management agreements (“IMA”) and investment advisory agreements (“IAA”). This is not for the purpose of a recommendation or solicitation of transactions or offers any particular financial instruments. Under an IMA, with respect to management of assets of a client, the client prescribes basic management policies in advance and commissions MSIMJ to make all investment decisions based on an analysis of the value, etc. of the securities, and MSIMJ accepts such commission. The client shall delegate to MSIMJ the authorities necessary for making investment. MSIMJ exercises the delegated authorities based on investment decisions of MSIMJ, and the client shall not make individual instructions. All investment profits and losses belong to the clients; principal is not guaranteed. Please consider the investment objectives and nature of risks before investing. As an investment advisory fee for an IAA or an IMA, the amount of assets subject to the contract multiplied by a certain rate (the upper limit is 2.16% per annum (including tax)) shall be incurred in proportion to the contract period. For some strategies, a contingency fee may be incurred in addition to the fee mentioned above. Indirect charges also may be incurred, such as brokerage commissions for incorporated securities. Since these charges and expenses are different depending on a contract and other factors, MSIMJ cannot present the rates, upper limits, etc. in advance. All clients should read the Documents Provided Prior to the Conclusion of a Contract carefully before executing an agreement. This document is disseminated in Japan by MSIMJ, Registered No. 410 (Director of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (Financial Instruments Firms)), Membership: the Japan Securities Dealers Association, The Investment Trusts Association, Japan, the Japan Investment Advisers Association and the Type II Financial Instruments Firms Association.

Important Information

EMEA: This marketing communication has been issued by Morgan Stanley Investment Management (Ireland) Limited. Registered Office: The Observatory, 7-11 Sir John Rogerson's, Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland. Registered in Ireland under company number 616662. Authorised and regulated by Central Bank of Ireland. (“MSIM Ireland”).

There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions, and each investor should evaluate their ability to invest for the long-term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Prior to investing, investors should carefully review the strategy’s / product’s relevant offering document. There are important differences in how the strategy is carried out in each of the investment vehicles.

A separately managed account may not be suitable for all investors. Separate accounts managed according to the Strategy include a number of securities and will not necessarily track the performance of any index. Please consider the investment objectives, risks and fees of the Strategy carefully before investing.

This material is a general communication, which is not impartial and has been prepared solely for informational and educational purposes and does not constitute an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell any particular security or to adopt any specific investment strategy. All investments involve risks, including the possible loss of principal. The information herein has not been based on a consideration of any individual investor circumstances and is not investment advice, nor should it be construed in any way as tax, accounting, legal or regulatory advice. To that end, investors should seek independent legal and financial advice, including advice as to tax consequences, before making any investment decision.

Except as otherwise indicated, the views and opinions expressed herein are those of the portfolio management team, are based on matters as they exist as of the date of preparation and not as of any future date, and will not be updated or otherwise revised to reflect information that subsequently becomes available or circumstances existing, or changes occurring, after the date hereof. . The views expressed do not reflect the opinions of all Investment teams at Morgan Stanley Investment Management or the views of the firm as a whole, and may not be reflected in the strategies and products that the Firm offers.

Forecasts and/or estimates provided herein are subject to change and may not actually come to pass. Information regarding expected market returns and market outlooks is based on the research, analysis and opinions of the authors. These conclusions are speculative in nature, may not come to pass and are not intended to predict the future performance of any specific Morgan Stanley Investment Management product.

This communication is not a product of Morgan Stanley’s Research Department and should not be regarded as a research recommendation. The information contained herein has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

Any third party data has been obtained from sources that we believe to be reliable, but we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or timeliness. Third party data providers make no warranties or representations relating to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the data they provide and are not liable for any damages relating to this data.

Risk management implies an effort to monitor risk, but should not be confused with and does not imply low risk.

Any index referred to herein is the intellectual property (including registered trademarks) of the applicable licensor. Any product based on an index is in no way sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by the applicable licensor and it shall not have any liability with respect thereto. The index is unmanaged and does not include any expenses, fees or sales charges, which would lower performance. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

MSIM Ireland has not authorised financial intermediaries to use and to distribute this document, unless such use and distribution is made in accordance with applicable law and regulation. MSIM Ireland shall not be liable for, and accepts no liability for, the use or misuse of this document by any such financial intermediary. If you are a distributor of the Morgan Stanley Investment Funds, some or all of the funds or shares in individual funds may be available for distribution. Please refer to your sub-distribution agreement for these details before forwarding fund information to your clients.  

This document may be translated into other languages. Where such a translation is made this English version remains definitive. If there are any discrepancies between the English version and any version of this document in another language, the English version shall prevail.

Morgan Stanley Investment Management is the asset management division of Morgan Stanley.

The whole or any part of this work may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted or any of its contents disclosed to third parties without MSIM Ireland’s express written consent.

All information contained herein is proprietary and is protected under copyright law.

CRC 2518115 Exp. 06/30/2020

 

Check the background of our firm and registered representatives on FINRA's BrokerCheck

It is important that users read the Terms of Use before proceeding as it explains certain legal and regulatory restrictions applicable to the dissemination of information pertaining to Morgan Stanley Investment Management's investment products.

The services described on this website may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all persons. For further details, please see our Terms of Use.

Not FDIC Insured—Offer No Bank Guarantee—May Lose Value
Not Insured By Any Federal Government Agency—Not A Deposit

Privacy & Cookies    •    Terms of Use

©  Morgan Stanley. All rights reserved.

Morgan Stanley Distribution, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.