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尼克•莱帕德:华尔街的“救急”专家

Katie Benner 2012年11月09日

当私募股权投资公司的CEO们遇到问题需要快速解决时,他们第一个想到的,就是Accordion Partners咨询公司这位年轻的首席执行官。

        
    尼克•莱帕德(Nick Leopard

    河滨资本公司(Riverside)首席运营官帕姆•亨德里克森近来在做一份未来五年公司的运营预算,但却发现她急需人手。这家私募股权投资公司在全球四大洲拥有超过80个分公司,总投资额高达32亿美元。帕姆手下的核心员工,一个在休产假,另一个刚刚离职,导致她现在人手严重不足,但这份工作却又需要有丰富金融建模经验的员工来做。心急火燎之中,她拨通了尼克•莱帕德的电话。“一旦遇到金融分析方面的问题,我们首先想到的,就是打电话给尼克,”亨德里克森这样说。

    32的莱帕德是Accordion Partners公司的首席执行官,这是一家成立于2009年底的金融服务咨询公司。莱帕德和其他25位银行家组成一个快速反应小组,他们可以空降到任何一家私募股权投资公司或是其所投资的公司中,解决各类问题,起到“短期内强化管理层”的作用,该公司的名称Accordion正是此意。“尽管私募股权公司在力推,但他们所投资公司的管理层却通常很难建立起一个非常复杂的风险预警系统,”莱帕德说:“这样就会留下风险隐患。”而莱帕德专长,就是消除这些隐患。

    作为前圣约瑟夫大学曲棍球队守门员,莱帕德在2002年进入商业银行CapitalSource开始了其职业生涯,2005年他跳槽至贝尔斯登。2007年,他又加入到BHC基金公司的投资团队,该基金公司管理着2亿美元次级债。在这个过程中,他结识了日后的客户,比如普罗维登斯资本公司和河滨资本等。

    2008年金融危机爆发之后,莱帕德断言出华尔街即将发生改变:招聘人数将会减少,成交量也会萎缩,而股权投资公司也会长期持有手中的被收购公司。于是他敏锐地嗅出了其中的商机。“你会发现,虽然股权收购方仍会找机会套现退出,但当经济形势不景气时,他们还是会给被收购公司以相当大的支持,”他说。莱帕德刻意保持着Accordion公司灵活的商业模式,比如,他的团队可以如投行一般,为一桩并购案提供专业意见,但Accordion却是按照其银行家提供咨询服务的时间来收费,而不是像投行那样,并购交易达成之后再收费。所以,即使交易尚未完成,公司也照样可以获取收入,这样就完全没有必要去促成一桩失败的买卖。

    9月,Accordion公司推出一项名为“首席财务官领导力”的服务项目。该项目旨在帮助公司处理投资者关系、风险管理、合规性以及危机处理等方面的问题。莱帕德说该项目尚属市场空白,而他则要来填补。

    译者:唐昕昕

    Pam Hendrickson needed reinforcements. Recently the chief operating officer of the Riverside Co., a private equity firm that owns more than 80 companies on four continents with combined sales of $3.2 billion, was trying to deliver a five-year budget for all of Riverside's operations. She found herself shorthanded -- one key employee was on maternity leave, another had just left -- and the task required masterful financial modeling skills. In a bind, she turned to Nick Leopard. Says Hendrickson: "Anytime we need analytic help, Nick is my first call."

    Leopard, 32, is the CEO of Accordion Partners, a financial services consulting firm that he founded in late 2009. Leopard and his team of 25 bankers act as a sort of rapid-response unit that can drop into a private equity firm or one of its portfolio companies and fix problems of all kinds -- temporarily expanding management's capacity, as the name Accordion suggests. "As much as private equity firms push, the management teams at their portfolio companies often can't build extremely complex forecasts," says Leopard. "So then there are surprises that no one saw coming." Leopard specializes in minimizing those unwanted surprises.

    A former lacrosse goalie at Saint Joseph's University, Leopard began his career at the commercial lender CapitalSource (CSE) in 2002 before moving to investment banking at Bear Stearns in 2005. In 2007 he joined the investment team at BHC Interim Funding, a $200 million mezzanine debt fund. Along the way he formed a network of future clients like Providence Equity Partners and Riverside.

    As the financial crisis unfolded in 2008, Leopard concluded that Wall Street was going to change: Headcounts would shrink, dealmaking would slow, and buyout firms would have to hold on to portfolio companies longer. He sensed an opportunity. "You could see that the buyout firms were going to get strapped but would still want to give their portfolio companies extra help when the economy slowed," he says. Leopard has purposely kept Accordion's business model flexible. For example, his team can advise on M&A transactions like an investment bank. But unlike a bank, which makes fees on completed deals, Accordion bills strictly for its bankers' time. The firm is paid even if the deal doesn't get done, so there's no built-in incentive to push for a bad transaction.

    In September, Accordion launched a new practice called CFO Leadership Services. The idea is to help companies manage investor relations, risk management, compliance, and crisis situations. Leopard says he sees another void in the market in those areas. And he's ready to fill it.

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