In May 2012, private equity firm KKR is considering the buyout of WMF group (WMF), a diversified kitchenware and professional coffee machine manufacturer headquartered in Geislingen, Germany. The deal seems a potentially compelling investment opportunity, with various options for value creation – expanding WMF’s well-established brand to other geographies as well as reducing costs. Priorities must be set, however, to generate an attractive return by the end of the investment period. The deal team has to decide which business segments are worth putting more resources into and which to divest, which brands should be kept and which to trim off, and how to take up any operational slack without affecting the overall strategy.
This case emphasizes private equity firms’ focus on operational value creation in a large buyout, in particular the process of analysing the potential for returns by improving operations in the target company. This differs from classic studies on takeovers based purely on financial metrics. Presenting a concrete example of the potential for PE to improve the competitive positioning, operations and culture of a portfolio company, the case provides an inside view of the way deal teams evaluate potential acquisitions. It also shows the challenges posed by the target company’s capital structure that must be addressed, and how this affects the potential for value creation.
- Private equity
- Operational value creation
- Growth strategy