After facing serious global headwinds due to the crash of 2007-08, the Spanish mid-market private equity industry has demonstrated it is rapidly recovering. There are different key indicators of this positive scenario:
A favourable macroeconomic environment
The gradual increase of Spanish GDP, coupled with a reduction in unemployment rate, are clear signs of the Spanish economy’s improvement.
The country’s significant rebound in economic activity is the result of strong policy implementation and favourable external conditions. In terms of the public sector, there has been fiscal austerity and controlled expenditure while the private sector is deleveraging and consumption is showing clear signs of improvement.
Pre-crisis growth in Spain was characterised by low exports and excessive domestic consumption and public spending. However, current economic growth is sustained by a current account surplus, which is the result of export growth (driven by structural reforms) and rising consumer confidence.
Availability of proven businesses with expansion plans
Despite the tough economic situation, Spain is home to strong and consolidated companies, led by experienced and solid management teams. These leading businesses have gone through recession successfully and now want to maximise growth options by going international.
Although funds raised were primarily focused on early-stage investments for a few years. However, consolidated companies are currently attracting the interest of private equity fund managers.
Stronger fundraising in the Spanish private equity industry
Economic recovery has been translated into an increase in middle market activity and the return of credit to the market. Although gearing ratios have not reached pre-crisis level, the credit squeeze period has been mostly overtaken. There is also now higher availability of equity, driven primarily by international private equity investors’ improved appetite for Spain. It has been shown that the highest private equity investments in Spain come from international limited partners, reflecting their interest in this market after several years of turmoil. The positive returns achieved from the rising number of divestments after the crisis has also been a decisive factor for their return to Spain.
FOND-ICO Global is also having a relevant role in the increase of fundraising in the Spanish private equity sector. Registered by the Spanish Securities Market Commission (CNMV) in May 2013, it is the first public “Fund of Funds” created in Spain. Managed by AXIS, a company belonging to ICO, it aims to enhance the private equity sector in Spanish companies at all development stages. Fond-ICO only invests in funds that have a majority of private capital. The investment in each fund will be dependent on the stages in which it invests as well as on the fund size. In June 2016, it was announced that Fond-ICO Global would commit €20m to Meridia Private Equity I.