Need to Meet: Craig Clay, president, global capital markets, Donnelley Financial Solutions

  • Venue virtual deal room for secure sharing of privileged info
  • Deal-sourcing tool Axial connects CEOs, advisers, investors
  • Offers contract analytics through partnership with eBrevia

As president of global capital markets at Donnelley Financial SolutionsCraig Clay is charged with “partnering with private equity funds in understanding the market and their needs, and how their portfolio operations group can be assisted,” he said. “And we’re helping with diligence around deals, getting information disseminated in a number of ways.”

The company’s virtual data room, Venue, enables users to share sensitive information with other parties to a deal process. “It’s not always efficient to have dealmakers sourcing deals,” Clay said. “GPs use Venue’s deal-sourcing tool, Axial, to help streamline business development, from finding capital, to sourcing deals, to marketing and analytics.”

In the early days of the virtual deal room, “they were really just using it for storage of documents, sort of a linear process, and what we see today is really the harnessing of the value of a tool that’s secure,” Clay said. “Security, especially in this environment, is terrifically important.”

More than 20,000 CEOs, advisors and investors make up Axial’s live deal marketplace, which uses proprietary data and algorithms to connect “capital with opportunities,” Clay said.

Venue also includes a contract analytics function, based on an investment by Donnelley in software provider eBrevia. “The contract analyzer extracts information from current and legacy contracts to ensure that key data and commitments are not missed,” Clay said. “This minimizes the organization’s risks [and] helps uncover hidden costs and opportunities, allowing organizations to make more informed decisions.”

The diligence feature “automatically extracts key concepts, allowing sellers to populate disclosure schedules and buyers to close the deals faster, with more accurate diligence results.” Firms can reallocate the time they save by using these tools “to high-value work, such as strategic and advisory activities.”

Donnelley works with clients of all sizes, “but the top-tier private equity firms are where we’ve built the strongest relationships, due to the size and complexity of their transactions,” Clay said. “[Venue] helps them simplify the process and provides a secure environment for document management, filings, print and distribution and collaboration. These larger transactions tend to lead to future deals, allowing us to continue to service the PE firms’ portfolio companies through the ownership life cycle, including the final liquidity event and beyond.”

Clients are optimistic that the strong M&A market will continue through 2018; Venue use is up from last year, Clay said. “There has been significant capital raised over the past couple of years, and in many ways 2018 will be a real watershed for putting that money to work — on the right deals. There’s greater focus on accuracy in due diligence and on speed of closing, which are two areas our solutions address.”

Phone: 212.729.1447

Photo of Craig Clay courtesy of Donnelley Financial Solutions.