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October 14, 2008

New Spanish office underlines A&M’s European intentions

Professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) has expanded its European footprint into Spain and appointed several new leaders in an effort to build operations across the continent.

The new Spanish office, based in Madrid, will be co-headed and managed by Ramón Tisaire and Stefaan Vansteenkiste; the latter is also the managing director of A&M’s UK office.

“We’ve had a presence in Madrid for some time but we wanted to expand our services over there to meet demand and to diversify,” Vansteenkiste said. “Spain is a growing market and strategically, for the firm’s development, it was the right thing to do. There is a lot of opportunity for us there.”

A&M has offices in London, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam, Moscow and Vienna. The firm’s combined workforce in Europe includes 140 professionals.

New leaders

The firm has made a spate of important hires recently to shore up leadership stocks across Europe. Key appointments include Douglas Rosefsky, who has been named co-head of the firm’s France practice, and Max Frangulov, who will serve as co-head of A&M’s practice in Russia.

Ann Cairns, who joins from Dutch bank ABN AMRO, has been appointed to lead the firm’s financial industry advisory practice in Europe; Tisaire, a former managing director with management consulting and IT company CapGemini, joins A&M to lead the firm’s newly launched performance improvement practice in Spain; and Colin Leisk, formerly of IBM, becomes the managing director in France.

Walter Bickel and Gerald Corbae both join A&M as managing directors in Munich to head up the firm’s performance improvement efforts in Germany.

According to Vansteenkiste, A&M’s largest European markets are the UK, Germany, France and Italy.

“The London office is a very important market and is also our largest market because of the sheer presence of private equity, hedge funds and stake holders,” he explained.

Vansteenkiste said the firm would like to become more active in Eastern Europe, as well as developing an office in Northern Europe.

“Scandinavia is a place where we don’t have an office although we have many engagements there,” he said. “We will be opportunistic in terms of growth. If there are new opportunities then we’ll be pragmatic about where the growth takes us and we’ll follow it.

“My personal goal is to contribute as much as I can to further growing A&M, developing the brand and making it bigger. Between the UK and Spain, I have a lot of work to do.”

A&M’s European revenues are primarily divided into two core service lines: performance improvement advisory services, and advisory services on restructuring and turnaround/crisis management.

The firm’s main clients are companies that generate between €100 million ($137.49 million) and €2 billion in revenue.

“In Europe, specifically, we essentially offer restructuring services where we will either act as advisors or take mandates where we are actually running the company,” Vansteenkiste said.

“For example, we will act as an interim chief executive officer, or an interim chief financial officer. These are situations where there are levels of distress, where companies are facing liquidity issues, or where there are gaps in the management team and there has been a loss of confidence.

A helping hand

A&M performance improvement work is mainly targeted towards private equity firms.

“This work is essentially for companies that may be experiencing some difficulties with a particular function area or with a particular division and they are in need of advisors that will look at the problem with an operational twist,” Vansteenkiste said.

“We will then work with the management and help them develop and implement a plan to improve the performance of their companies.

“We do projects all over Europe and staff them with folks out of all our different offices. We have senior experience both on the operational and financial side and they are attached to certain offices because they have strong local knowledge and language capabilities. Therefore, we can cover all of Europe without necessarily having an office there.”

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