True to form, the leadership of ICV Partners L.L.C. remains focused on the next acquisition target. When you ask the firm’s president Willie Woods the traits and processes that separate his top-flight private equity firm from competitors, he offers its six-year investment in Entertainment Cruises as an example.
In 2006, the firm invested in a small dinner cruise company, then named Premier Yachts, which grossed $35 million and operated in Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. The owner had outgrown its angel investor and sought to expand its line of premium cruise offerings. In examining the business, the natural assumption would be that the costs of maintenance and fuel could make the venture a money pit. Led by Lloyd Metz, a veteran Wall Street dealmaker and one of the firm’s managing directors, the team engaged in further analysis, discovering that these “floating restaurants” sailed short distances in smooth freshwater—not choppy saltwater—with little wear and tear on the vessels and relatively low burn rate of fuel, which represented less than 3% of total costs. The expense structure and operations offered great flexibility since trips could be made to accommodate parties ranging from 10 to 100.
So ICV got to work by first cashing out the angel investor and then merging Premier with its largest compe