A conversation with Ancala’s new Partners
Tim and Ankur play crucial roles in leading Ancala’s investment activity and supporting its portfolio businesses. Here, they share their highlights from working at Ancala and their views on the future.
How does it feel to be made a partner at Ancala?
Tim: I get a real sense of pride. When I joined Ancala in 2015, we were working in a small office with only a handful of people on Gracechurch Street. At the time I was working with Spence, the Managing Partner, to deliver investments from our first fund. Being made Partner is a nice moment to pause and reflect on everything the firm has achieved since then. We have now reached over €4bn in AuM.
Ankur: I echo Tim’s sentiments. We’ve built a successful and consistent track record at Ancala to cement our position as a trusted investor in the infrastructure market. It’s been a rewarding experience to have played a part in that. Since I joined in 2016, I have worked across a diverse range of sectors and geographies and gained hands-on experience on disciplined infrastructure investing. It’s a privilege to now be more involved with the key decisions that shape our investment and asset management activity, along with Ancala’s future.
What made you decide to join Ancala in the first place?
Tim: I was looking to work for a fast-growing and entrepreneurial manager that would provide me with maximum exposure to all aspects of the fund raising, investment and asset management process. I also wanted the opportunity to help build a team and make a mark on the business. Ancala offered this in spades and, together with the highly-motivated, can-do attitude of its leaders, I saw a great fit for my style of working and investing. Ancala is all about rolling the sleeves up and making things happen.
Ankur: Spence had previously led many of Macquarie’s principal investing initiatives in Europe and was well known. I very much bought into the strategy and vision. From the outset, I really admired Ancala’s hands-on and dynamic approach to unlock interesting and complex investments. The approach to proactively create value thereafter with the support of experienced and engaged Industry Partners is a feature I don’t believe many others meaningfully deliver.
What’s been your biggest highlight at Ancala?
Ankur: I would say Fore Freedom, our investment into the B2B Dutch fibre market. In particular, going through the full investment lifecycle from initial idea to a successful exit that outperformed our acquisition plan. The Ancala team implemented best practice management processes and structures, provided streamlined access to capital and grew the business development function. We also revamped the company’s product offering and marketing approach. Ancala allowed me to do this with a great deal of independence and responsibility, whilst also retaining the ability to seek the advice and counsel of our experienced team and Industry Partners.
Tim: For me, it was when we reached €1 billion in funds under management. Historically our size didn’t match the scale of our ambition, so it was really powerful and satisfying to quote having €1 billion of committed funds. It was a sign that we had hit scale and we were on our way to being the manager that we are today. Even better was the knowledge of how well the assets that we had invested in were performing, proving our approach.
And your biggest challenge?
Ankur: The biggest challenge was more around the growing pains in the earlier days of Ancala. We knew how to originate, execute and manage investments, but it was also a time that we were coming across things for the first time. There was a real hands-on problem solving approach required to do whatever it took to get our investments over the line – ranging from filing compliance requirements in different languages, setting up banking relationships in new countries from scratch, or searching for best value FX providers in new geographies. Whilst it is rewarding to look back at all the roadblocks we conquered, I like that we’re an established and experienced manager now.
Tim: My biggest challenge – and more so for Ancala’s leaders – was the juggling act of bringing everything together in the beginning. That included building a team, which I undertook to lead the recruitment for alongside all my other investment manager activities. Looking back to where we started, we have successfully established our own brand and built a comprehensive team, track record and processes.
Finally, could you provide us with any projections or expectations for the next 12 months?
Tim: I am very optimistic about the year ahead. Ancala has proven its ability to source and deliver investments at returns that have consistently outperformed our targets; even during the market headwinds from recent years. I’m excited about the Energy Transition story developing within several of our existing businesses, such as our recent investment in Fjord Base, and other advanced-stage opportunities.
Ankur: Focusing on downside protection across our portfolio companies has been crucial to our success. I am very positive about the opportunities available in the mid-market. Ancala has a robust pipeline of opportunities, and in 2023 so far, we’ve delivered six significant investments. I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the Ancala team to continue our growth.