In the world of private equity, Rami Cassis stands out as an anomaly. As the founder and CEO of Parabellum Investments, Cassis operates his firm as a hybrid between a family office and traditional private equity. This unique approach gives him the autonomy of a family office yet allows him to make investments and engage with portfolio companies much like a private equity firm.
On The Wall Street Lab podcast, Cassis shed light on why he cares so deeply about improving private equity’s tarnished image. In his view, many mid-market firms have had damaging experiences with private equity, leaving them wary of working with PE firms altogether. By demonstrating that private equity can be a “force for good,” Cassis hopes to change those negative perceptions.
I’d much rather work with an imperfect CEO and help them work through the challenges.
When sourcing deals, Cassis relies heavily on his network of relationships built over decades in the industry. He looks for strong management teams in industries he knows well, like financial services and pharma tech. In negotiations, he aims for a valuation that leaves both sides reasonably happy but not elated. “An outcome that neither side is happy with, but both sides can live with,” as Cassis describes it.
Once he acquires a company, Cassis believes in working closely with the existing management team rather than parachuting in new executives. He sees his role as chairman as supporting the CEO, not usurping them. “It is much better to work with a CEO who’s less than perfect…and help him or her to work on their development areas,” he explains.
Cassis stresses the importance of honor and integrity in building relationships and reputation over time. He prides himself on doing what he says without needing a formal contract. As he puts it, “My word is so important to me.”
In Cassis’ view, private equity firms often take an overly financial, numbers-driven approach in working with management teams. He advocates for a more holistic, humanistic style of engaging with portfolio companies. “How you do it, and what you’re looking for, the more confidence that’s going to give to people you deal with,” Cassis notes.
With his unique blend of family office patience and private equity rigor, Rami Cassis aims to prove that private equity can move beyond its dubious past. By valuing integrity and partnership, he sets an example of how the industry can evolve into a trusted partner for companies, not a feared financial engineer. Will that make him the White Knight of Private Equity?