CEA has been tried and tested in the business arena in more than 60 countries around the world. Our vision, first-hand experience and relationships can be invaluable when navigating ever-changing market landscapes.
From a historical perspective, Rick Michaels and his colleagues started investing under the CEA banner more than three decades ago. Opportunities arose largely from CEA’s investment banking and brokerage business, providing insight and access to opportunities that otherwise would be unavailable to individuals or institutional investors not actively involved in the industries.
Some of our most successful direct investments have originated through our investment banking activities. As our banking and direct investing activities increasingly fed one another, we amassed such hands-on operating experience and global relationships that we began recognizing transformational trends and designing opportunistic situations to capitalize on them as larger managed investments.
Rather than merely taking a seat on a board or passively investing otherwise, we use our experience, strategic contacts and access to value-added capital to actively participate in mapping out and executing strategic plans for managed portfolio companies. The result… a stellar track record of 89% IRR for more than 30 years of direct investing.
CEA has interest in a wide variety of industries. While our core strengths, expertise and industry contacts remain in the CME industries, we have been very successful in making active investments in industries as diversified as specialized real estate and death care, the common denominator being our ability to study and understand the value proposition within the context of the industry, and more specifically, the transformational trends that affect related industries. Other opportunities, which offer value creation through financial engineering, such as family buyouts and recapitalizations, are also of interest.
CEA’s interest in private equity stemmed from our successful managed investments, our financial services activities, and from our desire to institutionalize the investment process, while at the same time employing dedicated capital and taking advantage of proprietary deal flow.
By the late 1980’s, CEA commenced with international business. In doing, we found that many of the international media, communications, and entertainment opportunities involved either very large companies, many of which were state-controlled, or smaller entrepreneurial companies in need of a global perspective on content, technology, and business relationships.
For a small US company, it was extraordinarily difficult at first to win international mandates on a fee-for-services basis. Overcoming this obstacle required a merchant banking approach to establishing a beachhead in the international community of investment banking and corporate finance. This involved acting as advisor, sponsor and/or investor; and one good way to do this was to establish a co-managed private equity fund with Baring Brothers in Europe. In 1993, CEA established its first private equity fund in Europe combining Baring’s prestigious merchant banking reputation with CEA’s industry knowledge and global perspective.
CEA and its affiliates also managed, co-managed or participated in a worldwide family of private equity funds with committed capital of approximately $1.15 billion for private equity investments in the industries CEA serves. Of the original CEA funds, all have been harvested. Some of today’s legacy funds such as New York-based Seaport Capital and London-based GMT Communications Partners began as follow-on funds and evolved into families of funds in which CEA had a general partnership (“GP”) participation. These ten CEA GP-affiliated funds in which CEA’s co-GP’s included partners from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia.