Cal O’Brien – Mid-market turnarounds

05 Feb 2024

In the podcast episode of “Inside the Rope,” host David Clark interviews Cal O’Brien, a managing partner at Anchorage Capital Partners. Anchorage is noted for its expertise in mid-market turnaround investments in Australia, with an impressive average internal rate return of return of over 40%.

Cal shares his background, detailing his upbringing on a farm and how it shaped his career in law and later, in private equity. He recounts his transition from a successful legal career, where he specialised in mergers and acquisitions, to a focus on private equity. This shift led him to Anchorage, where he played an important role in establishing their first fund and later joined the firm full-time.

The episode touches on Anchorage’s investment strategy, which primarily involves taking control positions in companies with over $100 million in revenue. These are typically businesses that can benefit significantly from operational improvements, often being non-core units of larger entities. Cal emphasises Anchorage’s hands-on approach, including regular operational meetings and a strong emphasis on effective management teams.

Cal cites examples of investments, such as the successful turnaround of Affinity Education and the challenges faced with Scotts, a refrigerated logistics company. He also discusses current investments, including a New Zealand in-home care business, a childcare enterprise, and the renowned retailer David Jones, outlining strategies and progress in these cases.

Cal concludes by highlighting Anchorage’s support for Ability First Australia, a non-profit aiding disability organisations.

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