Versata Capital – The new member from Panama

An introduction to our new member who was presented at the 41st Convention:

Versata Capital is an independent investment banking and financial advisory firm. We spoke to the founding and managing partner Robbie García regarding his geography. Versata works closely with owners, board of directors, and CEOs in high-impact transactional processes. Versata Capital was founded in 2009 in Panama. From the onset, the mission has been to provide independent advisory services with a long-term strategic perspective and high analytical rigor.

For over the last 15 years, the Versata team has worked alongside well-established companies and family-owned businesses in the region, offering financial advisory services and transactional investment banking.

A brief market analysis:
Panama offers a dynamic environment for investors and businesses, underpinned by its strategic location. The country has seen a steady economic growth, averaging a 4.9% increase over the last decade and is projected to continue growing at about 4.0% annually through 2028. Economic drivers include logistics, financial services, and significant infrastructure projects such as the Panama City metro expansion and new energy facilities. The dollarized economy also helps attract foreign investment, enhancing economic stability.

Politically, Panama is relatively stable, crucial for ongoing business operations and investment. Its role as a key logistics hub, highlighted by the Panama Canal, is vital for global trade. Additionally, its free trade zones provide enticing business incentives like tax benefits and logistical advantages, positioning Panama as an attractive site for multinational enterprises and cross-border M&A activities.

Valuations in your country:
In Panama, the valuation of M&A transactions typically ranges between 5 and 10 times EBITDA (EV/EBITDA), varying by sector. This has translated into a healthy and active market, where valuations reflect a robust interest in key industries (telecom, logistics, maritime, food and beverage, real estate, among others). This range suggests a competitive environment for mergers and acquisitions, with higher multiples possibly seen in sectors that offer greater growth potential or stability.

Challenges you face in the market:
We face several challenges influenced by both local and global factors. Political uncertainty due to the upcoming presidential elections (May 2024) may dampen investor confidence, leading to more cautious investment strategies until clearer government policies emerge. Environmental challenges, particularly the potential impacts of El Niño, could disrupt key economic sectors like agriculture and logistics, introducing volatility and risks to investment stability. Additionally, fluctuations in the cost of capital, influenced by international economic conditions, could affect financing and capital structuring for M&A activity.

A short preview of the next year:
Although 2024 faces some challenges, we see interesting opportunities, particularly in sectors such as logistics, maritime services, transportation, wholesale distribution, consumer goods, and the food and beverage sector. These industries are crucial due to Panama’s strategic geographical position, which enhances its role as a global logistics and transportation hub. The expansion of the Panama Canal has further boosted the country’s appeal as a gateway for international maritime trade, making investments in these sectors increasingly attractive for M&A activities.

How your company see cooperation with MAWW:
Joining M&A Worldwide represents a strategic development for Versata Capital, enhancing our capabilities in the regional and global market. We are excited about the collaboration opportunities that MAWW offers, as it aligns perfectly with our goals to broaden our international reach and leverage the network’s extensive expertise. This partnership will allow us to share our deep understanding of the Panamanian and Central American market, and forge valuable connections with like-minded professionals globally. We are particularly enthusiastic about working with other members to discover new avenues for cross-border transactions and synergistic collaborations, ultimately elevating the services we provide to our clients.

Some recent transactions:
Some of the most recent transactions include:
a) Versata acted as exclusive financial advisor to the Panamonte Hotel in the sale of a majority stake to a private equity group.
b) Versata acted as exclusive financial advisor to Proserv, the leading foodservice distributor, in the sale of a majority stake to the largest food service company in the Caribbean, Ballester Hermanos.
c) Versata Capital advised Alternative Holdings on the acquisition financing of PSI; PSI is a manufacturers’ representative and distributor of industrial boilers and related machinery with a presence in four states in the US Pacific Northwest.


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