Women in PE to Know: Ann Ferreira

April 21, 2020

The interview below is part of an ongoing effort by McGuireWoods to profile women leaders in private equity (PE). To read previous profiles, click here. To recommend a woman for a future interview, email Amber Walsh at awalsh@mcguirewoods.com.

Ann Ferreira is a corporate finance and PE professional with more than 25 years of experience and currently serves as a co-founder and partner of Lake Country Capital (LC2), a debt and structured equity investment firm serving the lower middle market. She previously served in senior leadership roles at Good Harbor Capital and Churchill Capital, where she led and managed investments in lower middle-market businesses.

During the first 14 years of her career, she worked in the investment banking divisions of Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown, Bank of America and Chase Securities, providing financing to clients and advising on a range of corporate finance issues, including mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and restructuring.

Ann holds a B.S. from Cornell and an MBA from Wharton. She has been a board member or board observer to numerous middle-market companies.

Q: What attracted you to PE?

Ann Ferreira: I was attracted to middle-market PE because I love working with business owners and supporting their goals. I was fortunate to be exposed to many industries through multiple economic cycles early in my career. My first roles in corporate finance were in credit and restructurings, where I learned how financial solutions for businesses could be either good or bad. Coming from my background in corporate finance, M&A and restructuring, it was a logical progression when I was recruited to the buy side in 2002. The opportunity to assist small business owners who often lack direct experience in these matters, to use a variety of skill sets and to invest across multiple industries was compelling to me then and continues to fuel my interest today. And now, building my own firm as an owner/entrepreneur at LC2 is an exciting new challenge in my career.

Q: Why is it important for more women to pursue careers in PE?

AF: I would flip the question: Why is it important for PE to be attracting more women? There is a strong business case supporting active recruitment programs for women — and talent diversity in general.

First, PE firms want to work with the best and the brightest. That’s difficult to do when you are missing 50 percent of the population. PE is a field that requires many skill sets, with winning combinations improving outcomes. A broad talent bench enables firms to field the right team player for any given situation.

Second, middle-market PE is a relationship business. A comprehensive team will generate more and better market opportunities. Business owners and management teams select their PE partners. Referral sources such as lawyers, accountants and bankers direct deal traffic. They value and seek different experiences and personalities, even within a given PE team.

Third, limited partner investors and asset allocators are increasingly identifying and pursuing fund managers that demonstrate frameworks to optimize talent.

Q: What advice would you provide a women-led company interested in securing PE?

AF: Plan and prepare so you control your destiny! Plan well ahead of the timeframe you expect or intend to enter a transaction. It will always take longer than you think to execute a partnership. The less prepared you are, the greater the risk of failing to secure PE on commercial terms and finding the right partner.

Assess your business as it stands today, then define your objectives in the context of a 3-5 year business and financial plan. Consider your capital requirements and your personal goals (e.g., full exit, partial exit, succession). Consider your team today and the professionalization required to optimize a future partnership. Seek trusted, experienced PE advisers to demystify the PE landscape, assist you in your assessment and prepare and review the pros and cons of a transaction. This may require advisers with specialized and/or complementary skill sets to prepare you for the PE process.

With a well-thought-out game plan, you can find the right capital partners to meet your goals. For most middle-market business owners, these are once-in-a-lifetime events. You won’t get a do-over, so be intentional.

Q: Is there a benefit to being proactive in establishing PE relationships?

AF: I would consider this a natural — but not obvious — extension of an owner’s strategic business development plan. These efforts may result in excellent networking and learning opportunities that can be of tremendous value even when there is no defined PE agenda. The right contacts often have relevant experience in the issues owners are tackling and, therefore, can be great sounding boards. And you never know when an established connection will become a game changer.

I have a personal example to illustrate this point. An acquaintance reached out regarding a growth equity financing that would be the first outside capital for her consumer business. The capital was needed to support a large national order from a big-box retailer. She had three weeks to close a financing deal and had a term sheet from a source referred to her by industry friends. She was concerned about the terms, and rightfully so. We worked up a new solution that met the timeline and was a less dilutive option with no springing control features tied to near-term profitability, which was an unrealistic expectation for an early-stage, growing business in her sector. Her deep network, which she actively developed over several years, saved her from a bad deal that could have ultimately cost her control of the company. Now, five years later, the business is thriving under her leadership.

To contact Ferreira, email ann@lakecountrycapital.com.

Lake Country Capital (LC2) Announces Close of its Debut Fund at $182 Million

Fund Focuses on the US Lower Middle-Market.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Sept. 12, 2019 – Lake Country Capital (LC2), a debt and equity investment firm, today announced the final closing of its inaugural fund, Lake Country Capital SBIC, LP, with over $182 million in commitments. The firm, which has offices in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, is focused on debt and minority equity investments to US businesses in the lower middle-market.

The firm’s founding members are Chris Daniel, Ann Ferreira, Gregory Larson and Andrew Leonard, all of whom have over 25-years of investment experience within the firm’s target market.

Partner Ann Ferreira commented, “We had a terrific result, closing 50% above our initial goal. We are grateful for the support we have received from our investors, many of whom represent long-standing relationships that we have held over our careers.”

Fund participants are institutional investors, banks, multi-family offices and high net worth individuals.

The firm has completed four investments in the services, consumer, and distribution sectors, in both sponsored and owner-led transactions, since formally commencing operations four months ago. The investments represent the range of flexible capital provided by the fund, including senior and subordinated debt as well as minority equity.

“With our West Coast and Midwest offices in full operation, and a growing portfolio, we’re now looking forward to the new relationships that we will develop with management teams, business owners and sponsors as we collaborate on companies’ strategic growth initiatives,” added Chris Daniel, partner. “We’re proud to be a trusted capital partner in the lower middle-market.”

About LC2
LC2 is a debt and equity investment firm providing transitional and growth capital to US lower middle-market companies. The firm targets businesses with over $2 million in EBITDA across a variety of industries, including the manufacturing, business services, consumer-related and medical/healthcare sectors. LC2, which has offices in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, works in partnership with management teams, business owners and private equity firms to finance growth initiatives, recapitalizations and ownership transitions. For more information, please visit www.lakecountrycapital.com.

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Lake Country Capital Announces Formation as Debt and Equity Investment Firm Targeting the U.S. Lower Middle Market

FEBRUARY 2018 — Lake Country Capital, LLC (“LC2”) announces its formation as an investment firm providing flexible debt and structured equity solutions to profitable lower middle market businesses across the U.S. The firm maintains offices in Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

LC2 was founded by partners Chris Daniel, Ann Ferreira, Greg Larson and Andrew Leonard. Each has more than 20 years of lower middle market industry experience and collectively they have invested nearly $3 billion of capital. They have also served in key advisory and board roles for their portfolio operating companies.

Ferreira, Daniel and Leonard were partners on the mezzanine credit investment team at Churchill Capital. They have also invested in the lower middle market with other premier firms across multiple economic cycles. Their mezzanine track record includes $700 million invested in 65 companies analogous to the target investments of LC2. Prior to co-founding Lake Country Capital, Larson was the founder of Creekridge Capital, a nationally-recognized equipment leasing firm that provided growth financing to thousands of lower middle market businesses before its strategic sale to Hitachi Capital, N.A. in 2016.

LC2’s strategy will leverage the strength of the partners’ lower middle market backgrounds with flexible capital and an opportunistic investment approach across industries and transaction types where relationships and alignment with management are critical.

“It’s exciting for Andrew, Chris and I to reunite, and to join forces with Greg,” commented Partner Ann Ferreira. “In my experience, we are a unique investment and ownership team. Our values, philosophy and skill sets are well aligned to deliver excellent results to our business owners and investors. We look forward to putting our relationships and market insights to work on their behalf.”

Lake Country Capital is a debt and equity investment firm providing transitional and growth capital to U.S.-based lower middle market companies. LC2 targets businesses with EBITDA of $2 million to $10 million across a variety of industries, including the manufacturing, business services, consumer-related and medical/healthcare sectors. The firm invests primarily in debt securities encompassing a range of senior and subordinated, as well as structured equity securities. The firm works in partnership with management teams, business owners and private equity firms to finance growth initiatives, recapitalizations and ownership transitions. LC2 maintains offices in Minneapolis and Los Angeles.