Pacific Equity Partners, a private equity and infrastructure firm, invested in WINConnect in 2019 after recognising the growth potential of the Australian energy services business. It set out to undertake a raft of operational improvements that can be grouped around three core areas: setting the business up for scale and growth; improving the infrastructure of the business; and enhancing the company’s ESG performance, including ensuring it is well-positioned for the clean-energy transition.
The first prong of this strategy involved a focus on talent and technology. Pacific Equity Partners transitioned the company’s founders to the board of directors, and worked closely with them to appoint a new CEO and CFO with the experience required to lead WINConnect through the next stage of its development. It also implemented a new incentive scheme for senior management and sales staff. In addition, the firm introduced a new IT system within the first six months of its ownership. This system allowed the company to more accurately track and report financials, as well as enhance customer relations by identifying potential customer service issues early on.
Next, the firm helped WINConnect navigate capital and capacity constraints by restructuring the capital of the business, thereby providing the management team with access to the resources to invest in value-accretive infrastructure. The firm also supported the management and sales team in transitioning away from shorter, energy-focused contracts to longer-term, energy and hot-water-focused contracts. At the same time, the business expanded its service offerings to include on-site solar and electric vehicle charging stations.
For the third pillar of the value-creation plan, Pacific Equity Partners linked significant management incentives to ESG outcomes. WINConnect was the first of the firm’s portfolio companies to become carbon neutral in 2021.
The firm sold the business to Origin Energy in March 2022. During its investment period, EBITDA increased by 140 percent, top-line revenue by 60 percent, and the revenue generated per employee grew by more than 2.6 times.
The judging panel highlighted the firm’s targeted expansion into high-value and ESG-friendly services, praised its “coherent strategy involving management and development” and the impressive growth it helped achieve in a short timeframe. As one judge said: “The resultant 140 percent EBITDA growth in just over two years and near trebling of revenue per employee speaks for itself.”
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