Partnering with exceptional entrepreneurs to realize their aspirations.
ESPIRA Investments is a private equity firm investing growth capital in Central European small and medium size enterprises. We invest in entrepreneurs who have developed successful businesses to a certain stage and have passion and drive for further growth. Our overriding objective is to partner with high-potential Czech and Slovak SMEs that are in a position to accelerate their growth via capital investment from an experienced investor.
Growth is essential for SMEs to survive in an increasingly competitive world. ESPIRA believes that SMEs from Central Europe have great potential to grow and succeed internationally in a fast changing business environment. ESPIRA provides capital to such high-potential SMEs and also adds value in areas beyond financing.
Our goal is to partner with entrepreneurs who have built something extraordinary and unique through their hard work and who have a passion for their product or service, as well as ambition to grow further. We have a deep respect for these entrepreneurs and view their continued leadership as a critical element of our strategy. Our role is to provide a support on a strategic level and not to interfere with everyday operations of the companies.
We believe in close cooperation and shared objectives and we work with the management team throughout entire investment period in resolving challenges, setting goals and allocating resources. We seek an alignment of incentives across a company's various stakeholders in order to achieve desired investment results. We view ethical behavior and respect for each company’s unique culture and value as core principles underlying our investment approach.
One element of ESPIRA’s investment philosophy is our focus on companies managed by balanced teams of men and women. We believe that diversity in decision making and leadership can lead to superior results, and we recognize the potential of such companies and want to become the partner for their further growth.
Our engagement often starts at a stage when the entrepreneur does not yet have a clear idea about how he or she could grow the business with additional capital and what could be a possible transaction. During this phase, we are prepared to assist the entrepreneur and the management team to define their long term vision, fine tune their strategy and explore opportunities that private equity could offer. As such, we encourage entrepreneurs to contact us at any time for a noncommittal exploratory discussion.
ESPIRA’s investments can serve the following transaction situations:
- Finance organic growth and internationalization of the existing business
- Finance and support acquisitions and industry consolidation
- Support ownership evolution and capital restructuring (e.g. shareholder replacement or business transfer situations)
- Management buyouts
Via ESPIRA’s network we aim to support a company’s business development and enhance the management team’s capabilities. In cases where there are acquisition growth opportunities, we help to identify and evaluate target companies as well as negotiate and execute complementary add-on acquisitions.
We invest in SMEs with revenues of at least € 2 million, positive EBITDA and proven business model. Our focus is on companies headquartered or operating in Central and Eastern Europe with an emphasis on Czech Republic and Slovakia. We are interested in diverse industries including consumer goods, health care, education, services, and manufacturing.
ESPIRA’s investor base includes the European Investment Fund, the ESPIRA founding partners, family offices and a mix of local and international investors.
Andrea is a Founding Partner of ESPIRA and Chair of its Board
Andrea has over 20 years’ experience in emerging market finance. Prior to ESPIRA, Andrea was a co-owner of Wood & Company, a leading Central European investment bank and brokerage. Andrea was instrumental in growing Wood & Company’s business since its early days, where she started in 1995 in the Equities Division. After a management buy-out in 2000, she became a co-owner as well as the Head of Equities. Under Andreas’s leadership, Wood & Company’s market share in the Czech Equity market grew from 5% to the market leading position of 30%, which the firm still holds today. She also pioneered electronic trading access in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna, Frankfurt, Bucharest, Istanbul and Dubai, among others. Andrea was the key driver in Wood & Company’s expansion into 11 CEE markets as well as in establishing its London office.
Andrea was numerous times ranked among TOP 25 business women in the Czech Republic by Hospodářské noviny and Forbes surveys and acts as a jury member for a prestigious award Via Bona Slovakia. Andrea is also a Board Member of the Charter 77 Foundation, the largest NGO in the Czech Republic, which supports disadvantaged people and groups.
Andrea graduated from Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Economics, Prague.
Emília is a Founding Partner of ESPIRA
Emilia has been executing private equity investments in the Central European region for the past 14 years. Prior to co-founding ESPIRA, Emília was a Head of Czech Republic and Slovakia with PineBridge Investments CEE, a Central European focused private equity firm managing over € 500 million. Earlier in her career, Emília was a member of the investment teams of Benson Oak Capital and Penta Investments. Emília has been involved in numerous transactions in a variety of sectors including health care, consumer goods, manufacturing and services. Emilia’s track-record encompasses deals ranging from early stage, to control buyouts, buy-and-build and late stage growth capital investments.
Emília graduated with honors with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and holds Master’s Degree in Finance from Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica Slovakia.
Tibor is an emerging markets financial specialist with 14 years of experience on capital markets. Prior to joining ESPIRA, Tibor headed equity research divisions for investment banks ING and Wood & Company in London. In 2017 Tibor was the lead analyst in the IPO of Waberers, a Hungary based transportation company. Earlier in his career, Tibor headed the team of analysts in Dubai based Arqaam Capital focusing on the Middle East and Africa. Tibor also spent 5 years in Moscow working for the leading Russian investment banks (Renaissance Capital and Otkritie) focusing on equity research in telecommunication, technology and media sectors in Russia and CIS countries.
Tibor holds a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Economics, Prague and also studied at Stirling University in the UK and the State University in New York.
Tomas has 15 years’ experience in the finance sector in Central Europe. Prior to joining ESPIRA, Tomas spent 10 years with Franklin Templeton’s Darby Private Equity fund, focusing on mezzanine and minority equity investments. At Darby, Tomas was primarily responsible for sourcing, executing and monitoring investments in the Czech and Slovak markets. His engagements included Energy 21 (a major Czech alternative energy company) and EDS (the largest CEE printing company) where Tomas served as a Board Member. Earlier in his career, Tomas worked in the corporate finance team of Deloitte in Prague focusing on valuation and M&A advisory in the CEE region.
Tomas holds a Ph.D. in finance from the University of Economics, Prague and also studied finance at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich and The University of North Carolina’s Kenan Flagler Business School.
Veronika holds a Bachelor‘s Degree in Economics from the University of Economics, Prague where she is currently pursuing Master degree studies. Veronika also studied Economics at Sciences Po University in Paris. Prior to ESPIRA, Veronika worked as Media Monitoring Analyst in research company Media Tenor.
Radka has over 9 years experience in a role of an assistant and office manager. Prior to ESPIRA Radka held a position of assistant to the management of Cetelem Czech Republic and for Belmont, an international transportation company.
Radka studied French language at the Université Populaire de Lausanne and holds French language diploma of Alliance Française. Currently she studies „French for Business“ at Ostrava University.
John has 18 years of international financial experience from Central Europe, UK, United States and the Middle East. John served as the CFO and Managing Director of the Management Board of AVG Technologies, one of the largest global antivirus software companies, the first Czech company listed on NASDAQ, which later merged with Avast Software. Prior to AVG, John worked as a CFO at MiNC Property Investments and Wood & Company.
Chris is a Managing Partner of Advent International responsible for Advent’s investment activities in Central and Eastern Europe. Chris has over 20 years of private equity experience mainly in sectors such as business & financial services, industrial, retail, and consumer & leisure. Prior to joining Advent, Chris was at the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development, latterly as Senior Banker for Czech Republic.
Helen is the Managing Partner of the global law firm CMS offices in Prague and Bratislava and the Head of the Corporate practice group for Central and Eastern Europe. Helen focuses on the CEE region where she has advised clients on M&A Transactions for nearly 20 years. Her practice covers a wide range of sectors, particularly financial services, private equity, consumer products, energy and manufacturing.
Richard is a technology investor, experienced investment professional and co-founder of Evolution Equity Partners. Evolution is an international venture capital firm investing in information security and enterprise software & solutions in the US, Europe as well as in emerging markets.
Magdalena is a Country Managing Partner of Ernst & Young in the Czech Republic. She was awarded the title Most Influential Businesswoman in a survey conducted by daily newspaper Hospodářské noviny and now is a jury member of the survey Top25 Women in Czech business.
Martin is the founder of W.A.G. payment solutions, a provider of payment solutions for road mobility which belongs to one of five biggest mobile payment providers in Europe. Martin also lectures at the University of Economics in Prague and co-founded the Endowment Fund of Independent Journalism.
Lubor is the founding partner of EnCor Capital Management, an investment and M&A advisory group based in Prague, serving Central and Eastern European institutional and private investors. Previously, Lubor held a position of the CEO of Raiffeisenbank Czech Republic and his prior professional experience includes also senior management roles in Home Credit International, McKinsey & Company and Komerční banka.
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Press Release (EN)
ESPIRA Investments Holds First Close for Central European Growth Capital Fund
CMS Legal (EN)
25 years of Private Equity in CEE
Ženy & byznys / Svět Průmyslu attachment (CZ)
Interview with Andrea Ferancová