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GROWING THE NEC - We talk to Chief Executive Paul Thandi, 18 months on from our investment

The NEC Group recently filed its first set of financial results under private-sector ownership. With a 5% increase in revenues and a 15% increase in EBITDA year on year, it has been a busy time since the management buyout in April 2015, and we spoke to the business’ Chief Executive Paul Thandi to learn more.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE PRIVATE EQUITY AND WHY DID YOU SELECT LDC?

“We wanted to change our business and realise our business plan. We wanted investment to build new businesses, organically grow our business, invest in our teams and complete some acquisitions to grow our portfolio.

“We had a choice of a few people to go with, and what I liked the most about LDC was their approach. First and foremost, it wasn’t the business, it was the management team that they were interested in.

“With this management team and the right backer in LDC there is no reason why we cannot grow our business exponentially in the next three to five years.”

DO YOU FEEL THAT SMES CAN BENEFIT FROM PRIVATE EQUITY INVESTMENT?

“Any size company can benefit from private equity investment. Whether you’re an SME, a mid-market player or even a large organisation, I would absolutely recommend you to secure investment from a private equity company because you will get the return you’re looking for and you will absolutely improve your game with your company.

“You’ll improve the way you engage with your market place, you’ll improve your focus on your market place, your customers first and foremost, and also your staff.”

HOW DID LDC’S VALUE ENHANCEMENT GROUP WORK WITH YOU?

“The Value Enhancement Group are a great asset for the NEC, and for LDC. What we worked on specifically with the group was sales-effectiveness. I fundamentally recommend that the moment a CEO does a MBO with LDC, that they deploy that tactic because it’s fantastic.

“The rewards we’ve got through that one exercise have been enormous.

“We’ve changed the way fundamentally the business is structured around sales, we’ve changed the ways in which we engage with our markets and you can see the return growing.”

SINCE THE DEAL, WHAT IMPACT HAS LDC HAD ON THE NEC GROUP?

“That speed of focus, speed of decision making has been fantastic for us.

“We have launched a business called NEC Live Productions, we have invested in other products and services and got three international projects we are looking at. We have a great growth plan and there is no reason why we cannot achieve that together. LDC has been the catalyst for all of that. They’ve brought an energy. 

“Private equity for me, my team and my business is a fantastic place to be.”