In 2010, the advanced ceramics company Solcera was bought from Saint-Gobain by a foreign group, a world leader in this field.
The transaction generated a complex situation, marked by the clash of contradictory interests in a context where sensitive activities related to national defence were being developed. Guillaume Lisle, who had managed the company since 1988, sought to restructure the share ownership and turned to the investor Orfite to support him in an ambitious buyout and relaunch project.
When I spoke of Orfite and its commitments, I faced disbelief. People did not think it possible for such an investor to exist. Employees, lawyers, representatives of the state, members of Parliament, no one believed it. Orfite did not hesitate to commit itself in writing!
A partnership between Orfite and Solcera was established, with no time constraints or pre-determined Internal Rate of Return. Furthermore, Orfite’s exit from the capital of Solcera was decided in agreement with the management. Guillaume Lisle and his management rapidly established a trusted relationship with the managers at Orfite, based on the total freedom left to the former to pursue the agreed industrial strategy.
Orfite told us: ‘you know your business, we trust you’.
During the entire preparation and implementation phase of this complex operation, Orfite remained fully involved to ensure that progress was made. Its interest in the company, which was nevertheless well outside its usual scope of action, its patience, and the transparency of its commitments were recognised. Orfite does not seek to minimise the acquisition price of the company, but to buy it at its fair value.
It is astonishing that, being far removed from our subject and confronted with the complexity of Solcera’s case and its exit from an American group, the people at Orfite were not afraid to dive straight in.
Thanks to Orfite’s commitment, the subsidiary of a large industrial group became an SME of the future under the French flag, run by managers fully aware of their role in the success of the company.
By having full trust in the management concerning its industrial projects, Orfite also simplified the way the company worked, notably in terms of reporting. For Guillaume Lisle, Orfite’s team works thanks to its industrialist standpoint and convictions.