Q&A with Partner Evan Tomaskovic
In your view, how are these unconventional, quirky deals different from plain vanilla transactions, and are they characteristic of the lower mid-market?
One of the main differences we tend to experience on a Carl Marks Advisors Investment Banking (IB) engagement are complexities or hurdles that are unique to each transaction. Often, these are first-time scenarios the deal team faces. Needless to say, these situations require intense commitment by all parties involved and extensive problem-solving skills to get to a closing.
The complex and unique nature of these deals often means they last longer than your straight forward, plain vanilla IB engagement. For example, we recently wrapped up a 27 month-long energy project financing in Mexico. These long-term engagements require our team to maintain a clear focus on the client’s goal to drive the best outcome and overcome the many obstacles that can arise as a deal progresses.
Are quirky deals the exception rather than the rule, and what are your market observations?
While these deals generally run the same high level course that a larger or more standard transaction may, in the mid-market we see many more twists and turns so there isn’t a blanket formula you can apply. Our goal is to keep things moving on a normalized track. But it just doesn’t happen on these quirky deals. Therefore, in order to get to a successful closing, we must be flexible and nimble, as well as the ones keeping the ship on course all the way through.
What are the top 2-3 criteria that lead management firms to often times engage smaller investment banking and advisory firms, such as CMA, vis-à-vis firms with a global presence?
Closing a transaction requires dedication and innovation unlike what I had experienced in the past at a large investment bank such as Lehman Brothers. If the Carl Marks IB team is brought into a situation, it is usually because there is something odd happening. And our combination of senior level attention to detail coupled with our deep knowledge of the industry in which the client(s) operates is extremely valuable in the middle market.
Our most valuable asset is our ability to close almost every transaction in which we are involved. We communicate well, are user-friendly, and possess the requisite skills to bring it all together for a high quality outcome. Our team really thrives in situations that do not fit the cookie-cutter mold. We are proficient at adapting our skills to meet new challenges, developing innovative solutions and successfully tackling deals with a bit of hair on them. We don’t shy away from these challenges and we pride ourselves on identifying new strategies that achieve successful outcomes.
What are some of the roles CMA fills in these unconventional deals, and is there a common theme across industries? What are 1-2 recent examples?
Our roles don’t differ so much by industry. It is really about understanding what support each deal requires. Our IB team is highly qualified technically, with many of us either coming from a bulge bracket investment bank or having run a business of our own in the past. But just as importantly, we can act as a confidant, or even psychiatrist, to our clients to help guide them through the many frustrating and/or difficult steps along the way.
We bring an owner/entrepreneur mindset to each engagement. This close partnership is invaluable to our clients and key to a successful outcome. We come with ideas that maximize value but keep the momentum going so the deals don’t stall out.
We are proud of our strong track record and have earned a reputation of achieving successful client outcomes in unconventional situations. Recent examples include Triad Isotopes, Norte III and C&J Energy Services – all complex transactions we completed in August. When a client hires the Carl Marks Advisors IB team, they know we are well-equipped to handle the most unusual scenarios while keeping their end-goals in mind.
Tell me about the most intriguing part of being engaged on an IB deal?
As most of our deals are unique, each engagement is an exciting opportunity to learn something new, further develop our problem-solving skills and find new ways to tackle unusual situations. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of navigating these obstacles in new ways as well as the rewarding feeling of seeing how we have helped our clients, while having a positive impact on their businesses.