Working with portfolio companies

As active-value managers, Ethos partners executive teams to drive strategic and operational outcomes

We work closely with company management teams to formulate strategy and pursue growth opportunities to drive superior investment returns. Whilst Ethos will not participate in day-to-day portfolio company operations, we provide Board of Directors level advice (through frequent informal communication and at formal forums) and corporate governance expertise to management teams. Ethos seeks significant influence over all major business decisions that may impact a company’s value by engaging through a combination of the Deal Team responsible for the investment and the Value Add Team. 

Ethos’ efforts to assist management include, among other things, developing and refining strategic objectives, providing a third-party perspective on company performance, designing incentive structures and ensuring required financial and other information is produced in a timely fashion. Furthermore, while it is our preference to partner with strong management teams, we work with management to identify skills and capability gaps required to deliver the strategy. We work actively to identify and recruit the talent that is required to augment teams to ensure successful strategy delivery in the shortest possible time. We have also introduced new Chairpersons and Non-Executive Directors with the appropriate industry and leadership expertise in a majority ofFund IV,Fund VandFund VIinvestments. 

In many investments, Ethos has, with the existing management, supplemented and, strengthened management at portfolio companies. More recently, Ethos acquired two assets from the Nampak Group, Neopak and Twinsaver. After completing a successful carve out process, we embarked on a comprehensive Tier 4 transformation strategy (click here for or Value Add approach) that included bringing in experienced proven leadership teams. 

Ethos structures management incentives in a bespoke manner for each deal, with the aim of ensuring the alignment and retention of key executives. These often include the use of subsidies, bonuses, and ratchets.

Ethos is proud of our ability to develop great business and people leaders. We have attracted a dynamic mix of seasoned professionals, successful entrepreneurs and high impact non-executives to portfolio companies. We encourage the sharing of thought leadership by organising CEO and executive events throughout the year. These forums bring leaders together to: 

  • Network, creating a community of peers 
  • Share experiences of common business challenges and opportunities 
  • Provide formal training (e.g. lectures and course content from leading academics and industry professionals) 

Recent CEO events have covered a range of business fundamentals that have been highly relevant to all portfolio companies at differing stages of business maturity. Recent themes have included: 

  • Driving a Sustainable Step Change in Business Performance: a 1-day, intensive workshop, presentations and toolkit led by McKinsey and a selection of external C-suite executives.  McKinsey also shared insights from ‘Beyond Performance’, a new book by Scott Keller and Colin Price. 
  • Strategy in Action: a 1-day, intensive lecture + case study session facilitated by Prof Nick Binedell and Grant Pattison, together with a lecture by McKinsey on “Beating the Odds” in strategic choices and execution. 
  • Leadership: an afternoon/evening of multiple lecture topics by portfolio company CEOs and key executives (Waco,Kevro,NeopakandEazi Access), shared experiences by portfolio company non-execs, a lecture on culture by Mike Pfaff (former CEO of RMB) and a lecture on talent ecosystems by a senior independent consultant, Hannelie du Preez. 

Apart from the formal CEO events, Ethos actively promotes collaboration between portfolio company management teams to share best practice and learning, with the objective of accelerating business growth and addressing specific business priorities.