National Bank of Greece’s PE subsidiary emerges as Stage Capital

  • Goldman, Deutsche Bank secondaries team lead spinout
  • MidOcean vet Graham Thomas tapped to lead new firm
  • Team to unwind portfolio, continue as independent sponsor or raise new fund

National Bank of Greece’s private equity subsidiary, NBGI Private Equity, completed its spinout from the struggling financial institution with support from secondary-market teams at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank acquired all the bank’s interests in the firm’s assets for 288 million euros ($321.4 million). Greenhill Cogent’s European secondaries team provided financial advice on the deal.

Goldman and Deutsche brought in Graham Thomas, a former general partner at MidOcean Partners, to lead the firm as it exits its legacy portfolio from its days as part of National Bank of Greece, which is publicly listed on the Athens Exchange.

Access to networks

Forming the new management company required consent from the firm’s lenders and portfolio companies, as well as the Financial Conduct Authority, the U.K.’s financial regulator, Thomas said.

“When you’ve got new limited partners like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, the conversation is actually a hell of a lot easier,” Thomas told Buyouts. “There were no real tough conversations, but you know you have to go through the process and explain how things will work.”

According to Thomas, having access to Goldman and Deutsche Bank’s respective networks will benefit Stage as it manages out its remaining portfolio. Both banks possess strong networks throughout the U.K. and Europe, which could help the firm as it assesses new deals and judges counterparty risk.

That’s in addition to the money Goldman and Deutsche pledged to help the Stage Capital team with its existing assets under management, currently valued at around 300 million euros. The firm declined to say how much additional capital Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank committed.

“We do have additional capital from Goldman and Deutsche to support the portfolio,” Thomas said, noting that the firm may continue to acquire new assets but only as add-ons to its existing platforms. “It’s a very solid and strong relationship.”

Stage Capital typically invests 5 million to 25 million euros per deal, with the ability to pursue venture capital and real estate assets in addition to traditional buyouts, the firm said in a statement.

In June, the firm’s portfolio company Peter’s Food Service — a U.K. business best known for meat pies and pastries — acquired hot dog purveyor Mom’s Fabulous Foods.

Looking ahead

Stage Capital has been unloading some holdings. In July, the firm sold five Polish warehouses it held through its real estate portfolio. Another holding, ATR Group — which rents oil and gas industry equipment — merged with Centurion this summer. Stage Capital will retain a stake in the business.

Thomas said the firm hasn’t decided whether it will raise new capital in the near term. Stage Capital’s next steps, as a traditional fund manager or independent sponsor, will be determined over the next one to three years.

“It’s too early to tell. While raising a fund would be the preferred option because it gives you security of capital, I’m realistic,” Thomas said. “Most LPs prefer to see you go down the deal-by-deal route.”

“Our job now is to maximize the value of the portfolio and sell it,” he added. “If we don’t make the first deal a success, there is no next.”

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Photo of Graham Thomas courtesy of Stage Capital.