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Former CFO of JHSF and former VP of BHP join forces to surf the wave of restructurings


Nilson Exel and Ivan Apsan have teamed up with the American Khoury Ashooh to create the consultancy Ekko Partners

Nilson Exel, who left the position of CFO at JHSF last month, and Ivan Apsan, former legal VP of the Australian mining company BHP in Brazil, are joining forces to establish a consultancy for project management and corporate restructuring, Ekko Partners. The consultancy enters a market populated by established names such as Galeazzi and Alvarez&Marsal.

In addition to Exel’s expertise in finance and Apsan’s in legal and compliance matters, the consultancy will benefit from the human resources background of American Khoury Ashooh, based in Chile and a founding partner. The business starts with three clients, including Bracell, a pulp and paper company, where Apsan also served as legal VP, and two others that have not been disclosed due to sensitive situations.

The trio’s bet is based on the thesis that there should be an increase in market demand for restructurings. Firstly, a number of companies of all sizes took on low-interest debts to minimize the effects of the pandemic and later had to deal with the escalation of the Selic rate. Secondly, there is now an expectation of a reduction in interest rates, making the environment more conducive to renegotiations.

Companies went through challenging times during the pandemic, in labor relations, with suppliers, and saw leverage increase. When interest rates are low, it doesn’t hurt as much. But with the rise in inflation, we have already seen some casualties along the way.

Nilson Exel

Founding Partner of Ekko Partners

“Today, there are companies with good business and good operational assets but are highly leveraged, and they may not be able to cross the river banks until interest rates reach a lower level,” says Exel.

According to data from Serasa Experian, the number of requests for judicial recovery reached 593 in the first semester, a 52% increase compared to last year. The list includes names like Americanas, Light, and Grupo Petrópolis.

However, Ekko wants to focus on more than just companies in crisis. They also aim to work on specific projects, such as M&A, or assist a company in doing its homework before moving to the capital market, such as an IPO. According to them, one of the differentiators from the competition will be actively participating in executing the planned strategies.

Furthermore, the partners believe that their track records can attract clients. While Exel has 40 M&A transactions on his resume, Apsan participated in the crisis management of the Samarco dam rupture in Mariana when he was at BHP, one of the controlling companies of the Brazilian mining company, along with Vale.

We want to take this knowledge and apply it to the day-to-day operations of companies.

Ivan Apsan

Founding Partner of Ekko Partners

In this initial phase, Ekko’s idea is to focus on the Latin American market. Apsan is based in London and will also work to bridge the gap with investors interested in Brazil, while Exel remains in São Paulo. The team currently consists of seven people and is expected to grow to 10 or 12 by the end of the year.

Published on August 28, 2023, at 3:30 PM by André Ítalo Rocha. https://pipelinevalor.globo.com/negocios/noticia/ex-cfo-da-jhsf-e-ex-vp-da-bhp-se-juntam-para-surfar-reestruturacoes.ghtml