Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has launched a transactions
advisory practice in Europe at a time when other firms are trimming
corporate finance teams.

The firm hired 12 advisers this month, including several former
Big Four due diligence experts.

The European transaction advisory group has 20 professionals and
will provide financial, operational and tax due diligence services
for private equity sponsors and strategic acquirers.The firm said
demand for due diligence work to support refinancings, non-core
disposals and distressed M&As is on the rise across Europe as
businesses streamline operations.

A&M was founded around the provision of crisis and
turnaround management, operational restructuring, and performance
improvement services to companies in crisis.

The decision to open a transactions business in Europe follows a
successful 2006 launch of a transactions practice in the US.

The group will be co-headed by managing director Colie
Spinks.

“Given the distress that is in the market right now, the
mainstream traditional transactions market has certainly dried up
but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t transactions being done,”
Spinks said.

“There is a lot of demand right now from lenders into companies
that are being asked to wave covenants or reset amortisation
profiles or put new capital into deals. These banks often have lost
confidence in management’s ability to forecast the next six to 12
months, or even the next 13 weeks of cash flow. They’re asking
professional advisers to go in and help them understand the short-
and medium-term prospects for the company.”

Spinks describes the launch as a “long-term play” to move
A&M into the forefront of the transactions services market.

He said there is particularly strong demand for due diligence
work in the UK, Germany, France and Spain.

Joining Spink as co-head and managing director is Adrian
Balcombe, who has 15 years’ private equity transaction services
experience. Balcombe has advised several private equity and
bank-led transactions, both mid-market and large cross-border
leveraged buyouts. He was previously a private equity transaction
services partner at Deloitte UK.

Other managing directors include Philip Mitchell and Adam
McClelland, both formerly from PricewaterhouseCoopers UK. Mitchell
has more than 16 years’ experience in financial due diligence and
transaction advisory services. McClelland has more than 13 years’
due diligence experience, specialising in vendor due diligence
reports for domestic and multinational businesses. Five senior
directors, two directors and two senior associates have also joined
the team.

Arvind Hickman