Eric Easton, Ampex Brands CFO, says as the restaurant company grows its business (the Yum! Brands Inc. and 7-Eleven franchisee had more than 400 restaurants before this year’s acquisition of Au Bon Pain’s 171 locations), ESG is on its mind.
It’s on the company’s mind as it considers accessing more capital markets, including private capital through a family office, possibly a pension fund, or maybe a private equity group, because ESG is likely on their minds.
“That is core to what they do and they may have restrictions,” Easton says. “They may be the type of fund that has exclusionary screening to the type of things that they invest in. And so we've been focused as we've been trying to communicate externally to potential investors and things that we're looking at, how do we communicate our ESG policies? And that's really where we're at today.”
Easton says the company is also intentionally focus on ESG alignment as it looks for acquisitions. For example, its recent Au Bon Pain acquisition brought into its fold a business focused on diversity and clean food. As part of the acquisition, Ampex committed to its support of cage-free chickens and eggs.
Ampex wants to understand where ESG fits into what potential investors are looking at. And it’s not necessarily looking to typical equities investors — someone trying to maximize wealth through a private institution. He says they’re looking in part at private institutions that have historical wealth or endowments and how they invest.
“We've been really trying to spend a lot of focus around what their focus is and how that aligns with what we're doing and how we can communicate it effectively,” he says.
For example, he says there could be an endowment or private foundation focused on children that’s looking to invest. They might have an exclusionary screening process that could mean they can't invest in tobacco products or anything that isn’t aligned with their philosophical background. So it’s important that Ampex communicates effectively where it invests, how it actively manages its business and what causes it and its team naturally support.
“We just do it because that's who we are,” Easton says. “It doesn't mean that it doesn't have an opportunity to benefit us by sharing that information as we're looking for investors because if our core values align with our core values of what we're doing, it gives us greater opportunity to widen the net for ourselves as well as allow them to narrowly focus on companies like us that have aligned core values.”
Easton, along with UBS Sustainable Investing Strategist Amantia Muhedini and UBS Managing Director Samuel Parker kicked off the inaugural Texas Smart Business Dealmakers Conference with a rousing conversation on how sustainable investing and an intentional diversity strategy can be a company’s differentiator and help drive continued growth. Hit play on the video above to catch the full discussion.