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Mastering Private Equity Carve-Outs with Accelerated TSA Exits

January 24, 2024

By Paul Lennick

Private Equity Carve-Outs


Carve-outs have become a strategic tool for private equity firms seeking to optimize their portfolios and unlock value. The process of transitioning a carve out into a standalone company can be complicated, and many PE firms have begun to use outsourced services to accelerate the process. Here’s how PE firms can approach accelerating a TSA exit by utilizing outsourcing.

Understanding Private Equity Carve-Outs

A private equity carve-out is a transaction where a larger company divests a portion of its business. This segment, or 'carved-out' entity, is often acquired by a PE firm or another corporation. Carve-outs are distinct from other forms of divestitures due to their strategic focus and execution. Unlike spin-offs, where a company’s division is separated and shares are distributed among the existing shareholders, a carve-out in PE typically involves the sale of a part of the business to a third party. This could be a private equity firm, a strategic buyer, or another entity interested in leveraging the carved-out business’s potential.

The rationale behind such a move can vary but typically revolves around increasing efficiency and profitability for both the carve-out and parent company. Here are some of the advantages of carve-outs:

  • Focus on Core Business: Large companies often undertake carve-outs to refocus their strategic direction on core business areas. This process helps them streamline operations, reduce complexities, and allocate resources more efficiently.

  • Value Realization: Carve-outs enable companies to unlock the value of non-core or underperforming segments. By selling these parts to entities that can better manage or invest in them, the parent company can realize financial gains.

  • Growth Opportunities for Carved-Out Entities: The entities that are carved out often benefit from the transaction as well. Free from the constraints of the larger parent company, these entities can pursue more aggressive growth strategies, adapt quickly to market changes, and optimize their operational efficiencies.

Carve-outs require meticulous planning and execution, given their complexity and the operational interdependencies within the parent company.

Challenges in the Carve-Out Process

Carve-outs are complex transactions with several inherent challenges:

Operational Separation

  • One of the most significant challenges in a carve-out is disentangling the operations of the carved-out entity from the parent company. This involves separating assets, employees, contracts, and IT systems, which can be a complex and resource-intensive process.

Transitioning Services and Support

  • Post-carve-out, the new entity often relies on the parent company for certain services and support initially. Managing this transition smoothly away from reliance on the parent company is crucial to ensure business continuity.

Cultural and Organizational Adjustments

  • Carved-out entities must often undergo significant cultural and organizational changes. These changes can include new management structures, corporate cultures, and operational processes, all of which require careful handling to ensure a smooth transition.

Regulatory and Compliance Issues

  • Carve-outs must adhere to various legal and regulatory requirements, which can vary significantly depending on the industry and geographical location. Navigating these complexities is crucial for the legality and success of the transaction.

Financial Structuring and Investment

  • Determining the optimal financial structure for the carved-out entity is another challenge. This includes issues related to funding, debt restructuring, and ensuring that the new entity has a solid financial foundation.

Market Perception and Stakeholder Management

  • The way the market and stakeholders perceive the carve-out can significantly impact its success. Effective communication strategies are essential to manage expectations and maintain stakeholder confidence.

Private equity carve-outs offer significant opportunities for value creation, strategic realignment, and growth. However, the complexities inherent in these transactions demand meticulous planning, expertise in operational restructuring, and strategic foresight.

The Role and Structure of TSAs in Carve-Outs

Transitional Service Agreements (TSAs) are integral to the success of private equity carve-outs, providing a critical bridge between the divested entity and its new operational environment. These agreements, by their design, mitigate the transitional risks associated with carve-outs, ensuring that the carved-out entity continues to function effectively during the transition period.

A TSA typically encompasses a range of services essential for the day-to-day operations of the carved-out entity. These services can include IT support, human resources, finance, accounting, and other administrative functions. The structure of a TSA is usually customized based on the specific needs of the transaction and the capabilities of the divesting entity to provide these services. Key components of a TSA include:

  • Service Scope: Clearly defined services that the seller will provide during the transition period.

  • Duration: A set time frame for which these services will be provided, often ranging from a few months to a couple of years.

  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs): These define the quality and performance standards for the services provided.

  • Cost Structure: Detailed pricing or cost-sharing mechanisms for the services rendered.

  • Governance and Dispute Resolution: Frameworks for managing the agreement and resolving any potential conflicts.

TSAs play a crucial role in ensuring business continuity for the carved-out entity. They allow the entity to maintain essential functions while it transitions to its own systems or integrates with the acquirer's infrastructure. This support is vital, especially in complex transactions where the carved-out entity might not have the immediate capability or resources to handle these functions independently.

While TSAs provide necessary support, prolonged dependencies can lead to inefficiencies and increased costs. Therefore, PE firms focus on making the transition process as efficient as possible. Efficiently transitioning to independent operations or integrating with the acquirer's systems not only reduces costs but also enables the carved-out entity to align swiftly with its new strategic objectives.

Why Accelerate TSA Exits?

The strategic acceleration of TSA exits can significantly benefit PE firms and their portfolio companies. Here are some of the strategic advantages of accelerated TSA exits:

  • Rapid Operational Integration: Accelerating TSA exits facilitates quicker integration of the carved-out entity into the buyer’s operational and cultural framework. This swift integration is crucial for implementing new strategies and realizing the investment's full potential.

  • Cost Reduction: Prolonged TSAs can incur high operational costs for both the seller and the buyer. Accelerating the exit process reduces these costs, contributing to better financial performance for the newly independent entity.

  • Enhanced Autonomy and Agility: By shortening the TSA duration, the carved-out entity gains operational autonomy sooner. This independence is vital for agile decision-making and quick responses to market changes, which are often critical for success in competitive sectors.

  • Focus on Core Business Activities: For both the seller and the carved-out entity, an accelerated TSA exit allows for a quicker return to focusing on core business areas without the distraction of supporting a divested entity, or needing to continue to interact with the former parent company..

Prolonged TSAs can negatively impact both parties involved. For the seller, extended TSAs mean a longer period of resource allocation to a non-core entity. For the buyer, it implies delayed implementation of strategic changes and potential integration challenges, which can affect the overall value realization from the carve-out.

Planning for Accelerated TSA Exits

Accelerated TSA exits in private equity carve-outs necessitate meticulous planning and strategic execution. The goal is to transition the carved-out entity from its dependency on the parent company's services to a self-sufficient operation or into the acquirer's existing systems.

Step 1: Identify Essential Services

Conduct a Comprehensive Service Audit

  • Before the carve-out, perform an audit to identify all the services the parent company provides. This could include IT support, HR, finance, and logistics.

Prioritize Critical Services

  • Rank these services based on their criticality to the day-to- day operations of the carved-out entity. Essential services that impact business continuity should be given top priority.

Develop a Phased Exit Strategy

  • Plan for a phased withdrawal of services, starting with those that are less critical or can be easily replicated by the acquiring company.

Assess Internal Capabilities

  • Evaluate the carved-out entity’s ability to take over these services. This assessment should consider the availability of resources, skills, and technology.

Step 2: Manage The Transition Effectively

Set Clear Objectives and Timelines

  • Establish a detailed project plan with clear objectives, milestones, and timelines. This plan should outline each step of the TSA exit process and its expected completion date.

Utilize Project Management Tools

  • Leverage project management software to track progress, assign tasks, and manage resources efficiently.

Risk Management

  • Identify potential risks in the transition process and develop contingency plans. Regularly review and adjust these plans as needed.

Regular Progress Reviews

  • Conduct frequent reviews to monitor the transition's progress against the plan. This enables the early detection of deviations and timely corrective actions.

Step 3: Engage Stakeholders

Communication Plan

  • Develop a comprehensive communication plan that addresses all stakeholders, including employees, management, and external partners. This plan should outline how and when information will be disseminated.

Stakeholder Meetings

  • Hold regular meetings with key stakeholders to keep them informed of the transition's progress, address concerns, and gather feedback.

Training and Support

  • Provide training and support to employees who will take over the services currently under the TSA. This ensures a smooth transition of responsibilities.

Partnerships and Alliances:

  • Establishing partnerships with external vendors or service providers can facilitate a quicker transition for most services.

Leveraging Outsourcing in Accelerated TSA Exits

Outsourcing has emerged as a strategic enabler in accelerating Transitional Service Agreement (TSA) exits during private equity carve-outs. By leveraging external expertise and technology, companies can significantly streamline the transition process and associated costs.

Outsourcing involves engaging third-party service providers to manage specific functions or processes. In the context of TSA exits, outsourcing plays a pivotal role in several ways:

  • Efficiency and Expertise: Third-party providers specializing in areas like IT, HR, finance,and accounting bring in a level of efficiency and expertise that might not be readily available to hire in-house. Their experience in managing similar transitions can lead to a more streamlined and effective process.

  • Focus on Core Competencies: By outsourcing transitional services, the parent company and the carved-out entity can focus on their core competencies. This shift in focus is crucial for maintaining operational efficiency and strategic growth during the transition.

  • Risk Mitigation: Outsourcing can also mitigate risks associated with the transition. External providers are typically well-equipped to handle common challenges, ensuring a smooth transition process.

  • Specialized Knowledge in Key Areas:

    • Finance and Accounting: Financial transitions can be complex, involving aspects like tax compliance, financial reporting, and treasury functions. Outsourcing these functions to experts ensures compliance and accuracy.

    • Human Resources: HR transitions may include transferring employee records, setting up new policies, and ensuring uninterrupted payroll services. Outsourced HR professionals can manage these aspects effectively.

    • Information Technology: Migrating IT systems, ensuring data integrity and security, and establishing new IT infrastructure are critical. Outsourcing to IT specialists can accelerate this process, ensuring minimal disruption.

As you navigate the complexities of private equity carve-outs and the challenges of accelerated TSA exits, consider partnering with Quattro Business Support Services (QBSS). At QBSS, we redefine the essence of outsourcing in finance, accounting, human resources, and technology services. With our tech-enabled solutions and highly personal services we ensure that your transition is not just smooth but also strategically advantageous. Our world-class teams are dedicated to providing you with the expertise and support you need to excel in your carve-out journey. Connect with us today to explore how we can support your business's unique needs and objectives!

Paul Lennick
Written by
SVP M&A Services

Paul, as the SVP of M&A and Private Equity at ContinuServe, a subsidiary of Quatrro BSS, spearheads ContinuServe's global strategy, team leadership, and operational management for its M&A business, focusing on its carve-out practice. Leveraging expertise in consulting, private equity, and client service, he focuses on driving IT and back-office value creation through outsourcing and optimization.

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