Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Roman Ornik and I am an Investment Director at Rivean Capital. I am Austrian, born in Graz, where a large part of my family lives. Following the Bachelor studies in business administration at the University of Graz, I moved to Switzerland 12 years ago to pursue a Master’s and PhD degree in accounting and finance at the University of St. Gallen. Before joining Rivean Capital in 2015 (formerly known as Gilde Buy Out Partners), I worked in the investment banking department of UBS.
What is your company’s activity, what is its competitive edge?
Rivean Capital is a pan-European mid-market private equity investor with managed funds of c.€3bn, currently investing out of its €1.4bn Fund VI. Having successfully partnered with entrepreneurs and managers in over 250 companies since our establishment in 1982, we continue to actively look for opportunities to partner with outstanding management teams at leading SMEs. Through local teams across our core regions, we aim to maintain a continuous dialogue with entrepreneurs and managers. We strive to support companies – mostly regional or national champions – in reaching their next growth stage, often via internationalization and digitalization or by guiding them to build an institutional platform which can support such growth. In addition, we have a track record of successfully supporting businesses to benefit from the megatrend sustainability. For example, we identified the trend of sustainable corporate gifting and subsequently, together with management, turned one of our portfolio companies into a leading European player in the space.
In an ideal situation, what would you change or improve in the current VC/PE market?
Austria is full of attractive SMEs – leading players in their respective niche and oftentimes family-owned since generations. We observe that entrepreneurs, who consider to sell all or part of their shares in a company as part of a succession solution or other situation, are often not fully aware of the value creation potential from partnering with a private equity investor. Passing a family-owned business from one generation to another comes with significant challenges, both in direct management and governance. We are experienced in rapidly setting up an effective governance framework after a change in ownership, ensuring a smooth transition with no impact on business continuity. This is a topic where many family-owned businesses tend to struggle. Private equity could be an important building block in maintaining the unique mid-market structure in Austria. Family entrepreneurs in other countries face similar succession challenges but – in general – have much more experience with private equity. Both in Germany and the Netherlands we have seen numerous examples of family entrepreneurs partnering with private equity investors to unlock the full potential of their business while at the same time preserving the family wealth for the next generation. We will continue to contribute our part to increase the familiarity with the term private equity and hope we see more private equity activity in Austria in the next years.
Thank you very much for the interview!