A company with the culture of a startup is shaking up the staid world of mergers and acquisitions.
In a 100 year old building overlooking the Sydney Opera House, a scooter zips past a colleague receiving a massage, while coworkers file through a well stocked kitchen to receive blueberry pancakes.
Welcome to Australia’s dominant merger and acquisition data room provider, Ansarada.
The eight-year old company creates about 130 cloud-based data rooms every month for global banks including Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and UBS AG as well accountants such as KPMG and lawyers such as Gilbert Tobin and Minter Ellison.
Ansarada claims it has 60 per cent market share in Australian M&A data room sales based on Dealogic and Thomson Reuters M&A league tables. Started in 2006 with $30,000 in capital by a Russian-born software engineer, two accountants and an entrepreneur, Ansarada’s sales are forecast this year to reach $20 million.
“M&A in Australia has been flat for the last few years but we see a definite uptick in deals in the last three months,” Ansarada chief executive Sam Riley told DataRoom. Nearby the company’s three month-old green macaw parrot named Manda, a play on M&A, waddled across the shoulders of a colleague.
“She’s the world’s first M&A mascot that has a twitter account @mandamacaw,” says Riley.
The Ansarada CEO is dressed in a dark blue suit and tie but his colleagues are more casual. One is perched on a chair in bare feet, tee shirt and baggy surfing shorts.
Riley credits his firm’s success to a fun, stimulating work environment that stresses customer service. Personal trainers come into Ansarada’s offices twice a week to help its employees with fitness routines while every quarter there is a company wide theme. The current one is “surprise and delight” the customer.
Two days ago, Ansarada created an M&A game for the deal community. Already a hit on Wall Street, the New York Times is reporting extensive use of the game. Riley says more than 3,000 people have each spent an average of 20 minutes on the game, pitting themselves against their peers to see who can strike the best virtual deal.
Ansarada’s M&A game is only available on Apple iOS platform but Riley says work has begun on an Android version of the game.
The company’s rapid rise in market share in Australian M&A data rooms is because Ansarada has listened to its banker and lawyer customers, Riley says. Their biggest frustration with data rooms was that they were cumbersome, complicated and did not have adequate Q&A facilities for due diligence.
“We built a Q&A module in our data rooms and monitor it with alerts and reports that help the sell side coordinate their responses faster and easier,” says Riley.
Ansarada charges between $2,000 and $200,000 for creating M&A data rooms. The bigger the transaction the higher the firm’s fee as often thousands, and sometimes millions of pages of information have to be incorporated into a data room.
The company’s business got traction in Australia after it won the 2006 mandate to create the data room for the $5.5 billion recapitalisation of Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd’s media assets.
In 2008 a syndicate of Sydney bankers and lawyers invested an undisclosed sum for a 20 per cent stake in Ansarada. Its founders and some employees own the remaining 80 per cent and the company has since expanded into the Asia, Europe, South Africa and the US with offices in Chicago and London.
“In many ways it feels like we’re just getting started,” says Riley.