Private equity firms try to identify and invest in relevant businesses at reasonable valuations, work with management teams to better position and grow the business and then sell their interest at a price at multiples more than originally invested. Although there are several phases to the investment cycle, it is not often that things turn pear-shaped after a sale transaction was completed. I guess you can anticipate what is coming – a glimpse into what happen with a transaction, how it impacted on me and how God was leading me in the process.
During 2008, before the brunt of the financial crisis hit home across Europe, a business (in which an investment company managed by the group I work for was invested) was sold. Unfortunately, not all the proceeds could be distributed immediately to shareholders and a while later the process turned sour. I cannot share specific details as they are governed by confidentiality undertakings. All that I can share is that we had to take some pretty tough actions involving courts in the United Kingdom, acrimonious negotiations and eventually a settlement deal, leading to a work-out situation and a number of recovery processes over the past few years.
As part of my responsibilities, I managed this process together with one of the other shareholders of this business. Although the process frustrated and aggravated me from time to time, I have now recognised that despite what has taken place God has paved a way for some new relationships and allowed me to get to know a few very special people along the way.
I have also discovered Ephesians 6:10-18 where we are reminded of our protection if we put on the Armour of God “… Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God …” (New International Version, ©2010).
Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland with Christmas lights
It took time for me to recognise some of the manipulative webs which were spun during this process. In 1 Kings 4:29 it is written that “…God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore…” (New International Version, ©2010). Off course I cannot profess to have received the wisdom of Salomon, but I did receive from Jesus discernment and patience and enough wisdom to be able to deal with the situation.
Proverbs 2:1-13 has some wonderful words on wisdom and has real meaty food to reflect on – “… My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding – indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways… ” (New International Version, ©2010)
Proverbs 3:14-18 talks about some of the wonderful characteristics of wisdom “… for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed…”(New International Version, ©2010). Wonderful!
In the midst of what was happening during this transaction, I had a divine dream. I found myself at a small regional airport. The building was drab and unspectacular. There were large glass windows providing a clear view of the runway and a tall tree lined avenue in the distance. What on earth was I doing there? To my surprise it dawned on me that I was there to meet some ex-executives of the business where we held the investment I mentioned elsewhere. I hear a droning noise overhead. Suddenly, it turned to a shrieking noise and without warning panic filled people began to scatter and run. The control tower warned loudly that the approaching plane was in trouble. In the distance I could see that a small jet approaching but way too fast. Smoke was billowing out of the engines, and it was bouncing uncontrollably in the air. The plane overshot the runway and crashed into the terminal buildings, shattering on impact. It was awful and the destruction was horrific. Parts of the plane were launched into the air and all surrounding buildings, windows shattered, flames everywhere and the noise was incredible. Yet, I found myself behind an indestructible solid wall whilst debris shot past me and bodies of innocent bystanders were flying through the air. As suddenly as it all happened, a deathly silence descended. I was not hurt, not even scratch. I walked away, leaving the scene of total destruction behind me. God showed me how destructive this process was, but it is clear that with the full armour of God I am safe and protected by Him. Psalm 33:20 says “…We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield …”New International Version, ©2010).
Try to seek Him out and use the armour He has provided for our protection (Mike Donehey, Lead Singer of Tenth Avenue North http://tenthavenuenorth.com/ talks in a refreshing and candid about the joy of prayer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcRDTK4i4qw – have a look if you are interested).