HOW APAX MADE BILLIONS AND CHANGED THE FACE OF EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN BUSINESS
IN THE 15 years to my departure from Apax, the funds for which I was responsible achieved an average rate of return for our investors of more than 30 per cent, net of all fees and carried interest. (Apax earns fees for managing the funds, as well as taking its 20 per cent share of the profits of the funds.)
Over three decades, we invested in more than 350 ventures, ranging from biotechnology to bookselling. For every investment we made, we probably gave detailed consideration to 50 business plans. That means that we examined more than 15,000 plans in total: 500 or so plans a year, 10 opportunities every week.
By the time I left the firm in 2005, we had floated more than 70 companies, with combined initial public valuations of $34 billion.
Our first UK fund raised £10 million. Thereafter we raised a further 26 funds in Europe, the United States, Israel and Japan.
With a mix of early-stage investments and buy-outs, Apax backed all kinds of businesses: global brands such as Apple and AOL; fashion labels Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein; and satellite giants such as Inmarsat.
Apax funds invested in Israeli telecommunications operator Bezeq, and, in Britain, in the currency exchange firm Travelex, Waterstone’s bookstores, IT provider Computacenter, Autonomy, New Covent Garden Soup, the New Look fashion chain, Virgin Radio, the Yell and Thompson directories businesses, and Easy Everything.
Apart from the bioscience venture PPL Therapeutics, which created Dolly the cloned sheep, which could end up being one of the major technological breakthroughs of our time, the companies we have backed probably have not individually influenced the course of history. Collectively, however, they have helped change the face of European and American business.
By the time I stood down from the chairmanship in August 2005, Apax itself had more than 300 employees, and offices in London, New York, Silicon Valley, Munich, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Stockholm and Tel Aviv. We had more than $20 billion under management.