How a VDR Can Drive Better Fundraising Results. A Winning Edge: How a Virtual Data Room Can Drive Better Fundraising Results

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1 A Winning Edge: How a Virtual Data Room Can Drive Better Fundraising Results M E R R I L L D A T A S I T E

2 Contents Introduction 3 Virtual data rooms the right tool to reach today s investors 4 Continued results long after the fund closes 5 Summary 6 Sources 6

3 Introduction The long-standing practice of printing batches of books, mailing them to potential investors and following up to gauge their interest is too slow-moving to allow firms to capitalize on the rapid changes now taking place in the market. No industry has emerged unscathed from the tumultuous events that have rocked the financial markets over the past few years, and the private equity sector is no exception. As numerous studies have shown, capital raised by U.S. private equity funds has fallen despite a rise in the number of funds that are raising capital. However, according to several industry analysts, interest in private equity investment, albeit interest of a different nature, is once again gaining momentum. While investors are continuing to seek out private funds, they appear to be shifting away from the mega-funds and are now more interested in diversifying into small and midmarket funds. Although limited partners are willing to support strong performers and certain niche investment strategies, they are often committing the same size or smaller amounts than they did during the prior fundraising cycle, said Laura Kreutzer, assistant managing editor of private equity at Dow Jones. This shift in interest can be a boon to middle market private equity (PE) firms if they can move quickly to reach these investors. For some firms, this may be a challenge, particularly if they are still relying on traditional pitchbooks as their primary tool to attract potential investors. This approach may have been just fine in earlier times when money was flowing more freely and investors were more plentiful, but it is too time-consuming and laborintensive for today s market conditions. Simply put, the long-standing practice of printing batches of books, mailing them to potential investors and following up to gauge their interest is too slow-moving to allow firms to capitalize on the rapid changes now taking place in the market. Today s PE firms need much more flexible communication tools that allow them to: Quickly reach out to a broader audience of potential investors. Monitor investors due diligence activities in order to assess their true level of intent. Rapidly respond to investor queries and requests for more information. Develop and maintain ongoing communications with potential investors. One best practice is to manage the fundraising communication process via a virtual data room a secure document management platform designed specifically to manage and accelerate all aspects of fundraising communications. 3

4 Virtual data rooms the right tool to reach today s investors Virtual data rooms, or online document repositories, are well-recognized among PE firms as an efficient, effective way to manage due diligence related to sell-side activities. However, many firms are not aware that they are also extremely effective in simplifying and accelerating the entire fundraising process. Equally important, virtual data rooms make it much easier for potential investors to learn more about a firm s new fund. Rather than sending out pitchbooks or ing files to potential investors, a virtual data room enables the fundraising team to present detailed fund information in a secure, Web-based environment. Pitchbooks and other critical fund information are stored in a secure, online document repository that is easily accessible via the Internet. It is simple and easy for the fundraising team to invite parties to log in to the data room to review the fund, conduct due diligence and participate in Q&A forums. It is also easy for the firm to assess a potential investor s interest by tracking their due diligence activities in the data room. Over the past few years, a growing number of firms have converted their fundraising activities to the virtual data room platform because of the benefits it delivers. A virtual data room: Virtual data rooms make it much easier for potential investors to learn more about a firm s new fund. Rather than sending out pitchbooks or ing files to potential investors, a virtual data room enables the fundraising team to present detailed fund information in a secure, Web-based environment. Makes fund information more accessible, more quickly, to potential investors. Virtual data rooms eliminate the need to rely on printed documents and/or attachments as the primary means of sharing information with external parties. Instead, using a secure Web browser, potential investors can simply log in to the firm s virtual data room from the comfort of their own offices, via an intuitive, 100-percent content-searchable desktop environment. This method of sharing information is not only convenient for investors; it accelerates the process. Multiple parties can log in at the same time and conduct due diligence in a completely confidential environment, unaware of each others activities. Provides secure, controlled access to confidential information. What happens to a printed pitchbook once it is sent out to an investor? Is it actually read by someone? Is it passed on to others? With printed materials, there is no way to determine what actually takes place. By providing fund information via a virtual data room, PE firms can share highly confidential information and instantly determine if the recipient is reviewing it, without worrying that it will be passed on to unauthorized parties. Information is securely stored in the data room and made accessible to viewers according to the individual security permissions granted by the fund manager. Gauges investor interest. Virtual data rooms provide audit and reporting tools that enable the PE firm to determine potential investors exact areas of interest. The most robust solutions provide detailed tracking tools that point precisely to those documents and pages where viewers are spending the bulk of their time. This intelligence can be critical in assessing an investor s true interest and preemptively anticipating questions that may arise. Improves communications and tracking. Many PE firms have had little choice but to communicate with potential investors via their general system, even though they recognize the inefficiencies in this approach. Not only is this a time-consuming process to administer, it is also risk-laden. The firm cannot easily track activities nor ensure that transmitted documents are being viewed by only those individuals for which they were intended. A virtual data room with embedded tools simplifies the information exchange and provides tracking of all ingoing and outgoing communications. 4

5 Presents a professional company image. PE firms also appreciate the fact that virtual data rooms enable them to organize fund information in an attractive, professional file room index that is easy to understand and navigate. Some providers allow a PE firm to brand their data room with corporate logos and other company information. These touches enable the firm to create the image of a professional, company-maintained data room, at a fraction of the expense of developing an in-house solution. Ensures a secure approach to due diligence activities. Sending individual s and attachments via traditional systems makes it difficult to ensure that appropriate security standards for electronic information exchange are being met at all times. With the right virtual data room solution, the firm can be sure that all fundraising activity takes place in a highly secure environment. Addresses compliance requirements. Increasingly, firms are looking for a better way to maintain a track record of all incoming and outgoing investor communications in order to comply with regulatory reporting requirements. Some virtual data rooms include tools that seamlessly export these details, so they can be stored and retrieved by the legal department for compliance reporting. PE firms also appreciate the fact that virtual data rooms enable them to organize fund information in an attractive, professional file room index that is easy to understand and navigate. Beyond these key benefits, fundraising managers who have adopted the virtual data room model cite a number of additional benefits. In this situation where we re planning to share large amounts of detailed, confidential fund information with our investors, tools like are not an option, said Witek Wacinski, investment associate for Next Wave Partners. Continued results long after the fund closes After witnessing how quickly a virtual data room can transform the fundraising process, many PE firms are now using it for other activities such as: Fund reporting. A virtual data room makes it easy to provide investors with real-time access to reports, K-1s, capital calls and other time-sensitive and critical information. Acquisitions. The firm can easily create a separate file room on the site and use it to conduct due diligence on potential portfolio company candidates in a more comprehensive, timely and cost-effective manner. Portfolio management. The gathering and maintenance of portfolio company documents can be greatly simplified by using a virtual data room. For example, information gathering from the firm s portfolio companies can be easily accomplished by regularly uploading documents into the data room, where the information is available for senior management to monitor for effective benchmarking and execution of goals. Divestitures. Virtual data rooms make it much easier to keep critical information organized and available, enabling the firm to be in a state of asset readiness, prepared to take action when an opportunity presents itself. 5

6 Summary It s no secret that the economic turmoil that has taken place over the past few years is causing many investors to rethink their reliance on mega-funds as a primary source of income. Many investors are now actively looking for ways to diversify their investments and their risk by investing in a series of smaller funds as opposed to a single large fund. This shift represents a great window of opportunity for those middle-market PE firms that are poised and ready to present their fund. Today s PE firms need a flexible communication platform that allows them to quickly and easily reach out to a broader audience of investors, and also makes it extremely convenient for the investors to dig deeply into fund information before investing. To capitalize on this opportunity, today s PE firms need a flexible communication platform that allows them to quickly and easily reach out to a broader audience of investors, and also makes it extremely convenient for the investors to dig deeply into fund information before investing. A virtual data room solution, hosted by an experienced third-party provider, can provide exactly the tools needed to accomplish these goals. Sources Pitchbook: Private Equity Presentation, 3Q 2010, Pitchbook Data, John Gabbert, CEO and Founder Private Equity Fundraising: The Current Environment; An Interview with Mac Hofeditz, RSM McGladrey, Inc., Current-Environment The Future of Private Equity, A Churchill Financial Special Report July 2010, Churchill Financial, New York, NY The Sorry State of Private Equity Fundraising and the Looming Overhang, Seekingalpha.com, Aug. 31, U.S. Private Equity Fund-Raising Labors, Oct. 7, Dow Jones. Investors Seek Small- and Mid-Market Private Equity Funds, Brighton House Associates. Investor Monitor Archive, TRENDS IN PRIVATE EQUITY EXITS, May

7 About Merrill DataSite Merrill DataSite is a secure virtual data room (VDR) solution that optimizes the due diligence process by providing a highly efficient and secure method for sharing key business information between multiple parties. Merrill DataSite provides unlimited access for users worldwide, as well as real-time activity reports, site-wide search at the document level, enhanced communications through the Q&A feature and superior project management service all of which help reduce transaction time and expense. Merrill DataSite s multilingual support staff is available from anywhere in the world, 24/7, and can have your VDR up and running with thousands of pages loaded within 24 hours or less. With its deep roots in transaction and compliance services, Merrill Corporation has a cultural, organization-wide discipline in the management and processing of confidential content. Merrill DataSite is the first VDR provider to understand customer and industry needs by earning an ISO/IEC 27001:2005 certificate of registration the highest standard for information security and is currently the world s only VDR certified for operations in the United States, Europe and Asia. Merrill DataSite s ISO certification is available for review at As the leading provider of VDR solutions, Merrill DataSite has empowered nearly 2 million unique visitors to perform electronic due diligence on thousands of transaction totaling trillions of dollars in asset value. Merrill DataSite VDR solution has become an essential tool in an efficient and legally defensible process for completing multiple types of financial transactions. Learn more by visiting today. Corporate Headquarters One Merrill Circle St. Paul, MN About Merrill Corporation Founded in 1968 and headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., Merrill Corporation (www.merrillcorp.com) is a leading provider of outsourced solutions for complex business communication and information management. Merrill s services include document and data management, litigation support, language translation services, branded communication programs, fulfillment, imaging and printing. Merrill s target markets include the legal, financial services, insurance and real estate industries. With more than 5,000 people in over 40 domestic and 22 international locations, Merrill empowers the communications of the world s leading companies. European Headquarters 101 Finsbury Pavement London EC2A 1ER, UK +44 (0) New York Offices 225 Varick Street New York, NY Offices in major cities throughout the world Merrill Communications LLC. All rights reserved. MD0158_1 M E R R I L L D A T A S I T E

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