The highschool dropout who constructed a $900m fortune by discovering bargains

With no exterior cash, the Flacks Group chief govt officer has extra dealmaking flexibility than most buyout corporations, permitting him to contemplate doubtlessly profitable alternatives others dare not contact because of considerations linked to the surroundings or governance.

In September, for instance, his agency purchased for an undisclosed sum Kelly-Moore Paints, a US paint producer with historic liabilities for beforehand utilizing asbestos in its merchandise. Earlier than that, it acquired Corizon, a supplier of health-care providers for US prisons fined previously for poor efficiency, and Pleuger Industries, a German maker of submersible pumps for oil and mining companies.

Flacks just lately purchased an opulent house at New York’s Plaza Lodge at a closely discounted worth. Credit score: Michael Nagle

Kelly-Moore Paints goes via a restructuring, partly to cope with its authorized points, and Corizon was offered at a revenue months earlier than it filed for chapter, in response to an individual aware of the matter who spoke on the situation of anonymity as the main points are non-public. Pleuger filed a lawsuit final month in opposition to its bigger US rival and former proprietor, Flowserve, claiming it infringed on mental property rights.

A Flowserve consultant didn’t reply to requests for remark.

As he’s taken on little private debt over time, Flacks mentioned rising rates of interest haven’t curtailed him and his core workforce of fewer than two-dozen workers.

“I’m taking a look at alternatives others gained’t have a look at,” Flacks mentioned. “Typically, we’re shopping for a multinational’s asset they don’t need. We don’t really feel dangerous about taking a look at one thing that can die in 15 or 20 years.”

‘If life provides me lemons, I make lemonade.’

Michael Flacks

A local of Manchester in northwest England, Flacks bought his begin promoting fur coats and leather-based jackets in street-market stalls after dropping out of college at age 16.

He later expanded his retail operations and parlayed the cash into actual property, together with in locations like Germany, after costs slumped within the wake of the 2008 world monetary disaster. Property investments within the nation nonetheless make up greater than half of the roughly two-dozen actual property belongings listed on the corporate’s web site.

Flacks started shopping for up different companies a couple of decade in the past, with a deal with distressed companies saddled with debt. His firm led a consortium of buyers in 2012 that purchased Irish girls’s clothes chain A Put on out of administration and accomplished an analogous deal just a few years later for German sporting-goods enterprise Fan & Extra. In 2020, it acquired German cleaning-systems agency Zippel from a Japanese machines conglomerate and made an unsuccessful bid to take management of department-store chain Hema, a staple on the town facilities throughout the Netherlands.

“I like iconic manufacturers,” mentioned Flacks, who nonetheless speaks with a broad Manchester accent. However “some retailers must be left to die.”


Not all Flacks’s offers have gone to plan. Banks filed to take management of the 2 properties he acquired on Fisher Island between 2005 and 2006, when their values slumped after the monetary disaster. Native filings nonetheless register his tackle at certainly one of them, whereas the opposite was offered in 2009 for lower than half of the $US4 million Flacks paid for it in 2006.

Stefan Muller, a former funding banker at Moelis’s namesake agency, joined Flacks Group final month, signalling the agency’s dealmaking intentions. Flacks is now focusing on companies with annual earnings of $US50 million to $US100 million, greater than double his earlier vary, and is trying to enhance his firm’s presence within the UK and Japan.

Whereas Flacks mentioned he gained’t spend money on cigarette or vaping manufacturers, there are few limits on what kinds of offers come subsequent. He mentioned he’s at present taking a look at a significant enterprise that doesn’t meet present environmental, social and governance requirements.

“If life provides me lemons, I make lemonade,” he mentioned.


The Enterprise Briefing e-newsletter delivers main tales, unique protection and skilled opinion. Signal as much as get it each weekday morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.