Coco-Mat “Sleep on Nature” is the largest natural mattress company in the world with over 100 stores in 18 countries. The founding family wished to free capital and diversify their holdings and for this purpose it hired BBSL to advise it on the sale of a strategic stake in the company.
Actions undertaken as adviser to Coco-Mat’s owners:
• Prepared the company for the sale of a strategic stake:
– Split company into two separate companies: the operating company consisting of the factory/production and the commercial business of Coco-Mat (brand name, retail and wholesale sales etc.) and the other consisting of the significant portfolio of retail real estate assets which the company owned.
– Advised owners on the re-organization of the operating company from a family managed company into a “public” one organized into divisions with clearly defined responsibilities and reporting lines.
– Drafted a 5-year business plan of the operating company to present to potential investors.
• Executed the sale of 50% of the operating company to a blue-chip investor – the Libra Group (sum undisclosed)
– Researched the market and drafted a list of potential international investors
– Approached the investors on a confidential basis
– Lead negotiations with selected investor, drafted joint venture agreement and executed the investment.
It is notable that the sale of the stake was undertaken with the fact becoming public information only after the investment was completed, when it was announced officially by the relevant parties.
• Implemented follow-up actions for the company
– Led and executed the acquisition of 50% of the company’s nascent US subsidiary company which was owned by the company’s US partner
– Planned and executed the development of the company’s business in the US: opening 4 stores including a showroom at the Las Vegas Furniture Market; organized and supervised the business including the establishment of a perpetual inventory system
– Initiated and oversaw the SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) actions for the company
– Established Coco-Mat’s global collaboration with Natuzzi Italia, one of the world’s leading furniture companies: from meeting with Mr. Natuzzi and orchestrating discussions, to creating the concept as to how to win the mandate, overseeing and managing the bid process, negotiating and organizing the whole collaboration (including processes), signing agreement etc.
– Initiated and established Coco-Mat’s collaboration with Equinox Hotels in the US, which is a sister company of Equinox Fitness and is owned by L Catterton and the Related Companies Group: establishing relationship and commencing discussions with the CEO, reviewing and refining the hotel pricing structure of Coco-Mat which had not been reviewed for the last 8 years, negotiating, establishing basis of collaboration, signing agreement etc.
– Established the company’s retail store distribution network in Paris and in Cyprus.
– Marios Sophroniou for 5 years was the Vice Chairman of the company as also the President of the company’s fully owned US subsidiary.
– Established the owners’ other company which owned the retail real estate assets into a Real Estate Investment Trust company and had this company approved and registered as such by the Hellenic Capital Markets Commission.
OPAP is the leading lottery company in Greece and one of the most renowned in its industry worldwide. OPAP appointed BBSL to advice it on appraising a potential investment in Altala Group Ltd (UK), a newly established lottery company whose mission was to establish and manage The Health Lottery on behalf of 31 Community Interest Companies (CICs) in the UK.
Actions undertaken as adviser to OPAP:
• Reviewed the UK lottery market and the positioning of The Health Lottery vis-à-vis other lotteries in the market
• Evaluated the business plan of Altala Group and undertook a SWOT analysis, liaising with JP Morgan, Altala Group’s advisors as well as the company itself
• Evaluated Goldman Sachs’ valuation of Altala Group and undertook its own valuation of Altala Group
• Submitted a recommendation to the Board of OPAP on the merits of an investment in Altala Group
BBSL advised OPAP against an investment in Altala Group due to a variety of reasons which it outlined in its report, an advice which OPAP’s Board of Directors followed.
Altala Group was liquidated 2 years after BBSL’s recommendation against the investment.
Bank of Cyprus
Marios Sophroniou as head of the investment banking activities of the Bank in Greece had full and sole responsibility for the Bank’s dual listing on the Athens Stock Exchange (it was already listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange) and capital increase of c. $500 million – at the time the biggest capital increase on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Actions undertaken for the Bank of Cyprus:
• With the support of a leading Greek law firm drafted and passed through the Parliament of the Hellenic Republic a bill which allowed a foreign company already listed on a different stock exchange to be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange
• Worked with the Athens and Cyprus Stock Exchanges, in which the stock would be traded simultaneously, on how this would undertaken as also how the stock transactions would be processed and settled
• Liaised with institutional investors and stockbrokers to ascertain investors’ attitudes (institutional and individual) and thus ensure the best positioning of the Bank’s listing
• Selected underwriting syndicate based on merits of each bank to ensure the widest and deepest investor coverage
•In addition to organizing the necessary road show for the Bank, held one-to-one meetings with institutional investors and banking analysts to educated them fully on the operations and strategy of the Bank and merits of its investment story
• Advised the Board of the Bank on the timing of the listing and capital increase, and executed the action
• Ensured the smooth aftermarket performance of the listing by managing directly the shares allotted for this purpose
The listing of the Bank was over-subscribed several times, aftermarket performance was consistently strong and throughout the period of the bank’s dual listing, there were never any price-differential, settlement etc. issues.
Ahold Delhaize Group is one of the biggest supermarket groups in the world. As part of its strategy was to expand its operations across Europe, Marios Sophroniou through his knowledge of the Greek market and being aware of the fact that the founder and CEO of AB Vassilopoulos Supermarket, at the time the biggest supermarket in Greece, had no viable heir apparent to assume the reins of the company, initiated discussions between the two parties.
Actions undertaken for Delhaize Group:
• Advised as to the strategy and tactics for negotiations and assisted in the negotiations
• Advised and assisted in the determination of the value of the shares to be acquired
• Liaised with the company
• Analysed the public information and information prepared by the company
• Developed a general strategy for accomplishing the acquisition; including the structuring of the terms and conditions of the acquisition and coordinating its advice with that of legal, tax and other advisers
AB Vassilopoulos remains a key subsidiary of the Ahold Delhaize Group; with a network of 500 stores across Greece generating €2 billion in revenues.