Camden Associates was founded 11 years ago with the objective to capitalise on overlooked opportunities in the financing markets. At that point, a lot of the traditional banks were pursuing large deals, paying no attention to the needs of smaller companies. As a chartered financial analyst, Jean-Claude Gonneau has been active in the field of emerging growth companies for years. Former banker at Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette and General Manager of SG Cowen Europe – this is a space Jean-Claude knows well. Here he shares his insights with Finance Monthly.
What has been happening with Camden Associates since we last spoke in 2016? Are there any recent project or major milestones that you’d like to share with us?
2017 has been a very busy year for us with some major pieces of business done. As an international firm, we have scored closing one major deal, seeing a private equity fund taking 52% of the capital of one of our historic client, a real estate developer. We have been faced with some complicated transactions, which have however been highly satisfying as well.
At the moment, we are also in the final stages of the sale of a Ghana-based mining company to eastern investors. As expected, the mining sector is gathering steam and we have been active with two TSX-V listed mining companies. Finally, we are acting for a listed Canadian medical cannabis company. This definitely keeps us busy.
How has the mid-market sector fared in the past year ?
Things started quickly in January 2017 and have stayed very stable since then. As far as we can judge at this point, it is likely that 2018 will follow that trend, barring any unforeseen event.
What have been the issues that your clients face in relation to fund raising and project finance ?
The volume of new regulations just does not abate and is seriously harming international financing flows. As of 3 January 2018, MIFID II will add to the maze of new regulations that are meant to protect investors. Unfortunately, people creating these regulations have little to no idea about the final consequences of these new regulations. It seems likely that very large international banks will manage to adapt, but, in my opinion, it is medium-sized players that will be affected.
What are the issues that your clients face in relation to fund raising and project finance?
The evolution of the last few years shows that regional regulations are going in opposite directions with the effect of gradually closing markets.
European investors have rarely showed as little appetite as they currently have for American companies. This is largely due to new European regulations, but also due to a gradual lack of interest and understanding. Aside from the UK, European investors are shying away from the mining sector. A limited number of investors in Europe understand the gradual legalisation of cannabis in the US and Canada and its massive financial implications. What this means is that fund raising and project financing tend to operate on a regional basis. From our point of view, having a fairly strong international reach tends to help us to some extent, but it’s not a situtation one can really rejoice about.
What lies on the horizon for you and Camden Associates in 2018?
Camden is a specialised investment firm. We have positioned ourselves for trends which are starting to materialize. We do not think much further than that. We have to do our best for clients who have put their trust in us. We are very busy at present and our book is still pretty full.
I can’t predict anything going forward, as you need to work as hard for a deal that fails as for a deal that works. Simply put, it seems that the only certainty is that working hard is the order of the day and that of next year. As for success – only time will tell.
What differentiates Camden Associates from other investment firms?
We work with our clients as partners. Without proper and effective communication, there cannot be a successful financing. We constantly interface with potential investors and provide feedback to our clients. The feedback from the markets when it comes to valuation is not necessarily well received, but we believe that honesty rhymes with integrity. Our constant interaction with the buy-side allows us to provide our clients with company-specific or situation-specific IR execution, which integrates with capital markets strategies and planning.
Website : http://www.camdenassociates.co.uk/