By Guido Gandi
VERTEQ Capital S.p.A. is a holding of private equity investments. It is sector agnostic with an opportunistic approach. It provides risk capital to top performing businesses and also selectively invests in special situations, real assets and renewable energy.
The fund is managed by Ennio Valerio Boccardi, BS in Economics from Luiss University in Rome, MBA from Columbia Business School in NY with an outstanding career path ranging from consulting with McKinsey & Company to private equity with Magenta SGR, Palamon Capital Partners (1.1 billion AUM), VAM Investments, an investment company he co-founded and managed prior to founding VERTEQ Capital in January 2019.
VERTEQ Capital has a current portfolio composed of Gellify, a VC and B2B digital enabler, S-Solar, a portfolio of high-yield photovoltaic plants, Soundreef, the first private company in Europe active in the collection of royalties in the music industry and an agricultural innovative start-up active in the production of olive oil, ArteOlio.
Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time for this conversation. I would like to start off by asking you about your academic and professional background which led you to found VERTEQ.
When I was at my last year of university, I entered McKinsey & Company as an intern in Milan and stayed there for the following 7 years. McKinsey made it possible for me to pursue an MBA at Columbia Business School. In 2006, I went to work for Magenta SGR, a newly established PE fund management company that was looking for an MBA graduate and McKinsey manager. In 2008, I then joined the London-based PE firm Palamon Capital Partners.
In 2013, gathering all the knowledge, network and experiences that I developed along the way, I decided to return to Italy and found VAM Investments with an old companion from McKinsey.
After almost five years together, a different view on market positioning brought me to leave VAM and start VERTEQ Capital.
Did your MBA experience imply a big change for you and your career? Would you recommend undertaking a top MBA program?
The MBA at Columbia was surely one of the most exciting adventures of my life. Not only did it make me study in a challenging environment but it also introduced me to some of my closest friends and business relationships of today. I would certainly suggest you to enroll for an international top-tier MBA as that allows you to develop as a person and as a professional and enlarge your network. But it is easy for me to say that since McKinsey covered my tuition and living expenses!
When you were a student, did you already know that you wanted to pursue a career in Private Equity? How did your specific interest for Private Equity begin to grow?
No, I had no idea. I discovered that I might like a career in PE during my MBA studies, and once back to McKinsey, I jumped on opportunities to do business due diligence for PE funds. That’s when I definitely fell in love with this profession and actively started looking for career opportunities there.
What made you think that it was the right time to go on your own and found your first company?
A number of factors. While I was working in London, I saw many possible good deals that were too small for traditional PE firms. I started thinking that there was a niche in the market still open for investors in SMEs, especially in a country like Italy whose economy depends upon family-owned businesses. A couple of friends from McKinsey and Columbia shared my view and, with a large combined network of potential investors, we decided to start working on the first deals. It seemed to be working and we ended up starting our own company.
What is the procedure used by your firm when choosing the ideal target? And in which way do you invest?
We look for opportunities that seem unbalanced on the risk/return profile. We look for companies with a high cash conversion and growth potential that need some strategic support from a professional investor, and therefore have an unexploited potential for value increase.
How do you think your company is different from the others?
I like to think that we offer investors a rare chance to participate in small PE deals with higher-than-average returns. We select the right investments, execute the deal and manage the investment once it is in our portfolio. Our co-investors are free to decide deal-by-deal if they want to invest along-side us or not.
Can you reveal to us some of the secrets, skills and the attitude that helped you be successful in the PE industry? What advice would you give to our readers who may pursue a career in Private Equity?
I’m not sure there are any secrets. I think it requires passion, hard work, and a very strong curiosity for learning the intimate workings and mechanics of the most disparate and diverse industries.
One piece of advice: look for opportunities to start working in PE early-on. Smaller firms may offer that rare opportunity…
Thank you for your time!
Editor: Eric Peghini
Author: Guido Gandi