Investment

As distressed companies multiply, family offices are circling – just look what they’re doing at Cazoo

As markets continue to head south, distressed companies are growing by the hour. But savvy family offices see an opportunity as dealings around one of the most high-profile e-commerce businesses in the UK, Cazoo, shows.  

Launched in 2018, the online used car platform Cazoo snowballed against a supercharged tech frenzy and listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2021. But at the end of last year, things started to go badly wrong as investors became disenchanted with the heavily hyped stock. Its share price has since plummeted, falling close to 90% in the last year. 

These days Och invests through Willoughby. But the Cazoo deal suggested he’s lost none of his ability to sniff out excellent distressed deal opportunities. 

Step in ​​family office Willoughby Capital which, along with a couple of hedge funds, debt-financed the business in February this year as the shine was fading fast from Cazoo. Willoughby is the family office of Daniel Och, the hedge manager who knows a thing or two about distressed debt. Indeed, he is often cited as one of Wall Street’s top distressed debt specialists, which he’s perfected through his Och-Ziff Capital Management hedge fund. 

These days Och invests through Willoughby. But the Cazoo deal suggested he’s lost none of his ability to sniff out excellent distressed deal opportunities. 

Through Willoughby, Och owns 5.5% of Class A shares in Cazoo, according to SEC filings. He is a director on the board and probably had something to say about Cazoo’s “Business Realignment Plan”, launched this month to try to restructure the business down a more profitable path. 

Regarding business, Och isn’t someone to mess around, and he will have his eye on turning around Cazoo, which, despite its problems, has established a well-recognized brand and franchise very quickly. And in those efforts, he might be aided in this by some of the other shareholders. 

They include Highline Investments, a family office owned by Jonathon Jacobson, a former hedge fund manager, and Saloniki Investments, a family office owned by Jim McKelvey, who co-founded payments firm Square (now Block) with Jack Dorsey in 2009. 

Another big shareholder is the Daily Mail and General Trust, the media group owned by Lord Rothermere, which invested at Cazoo’s genesis and has been with them ever since. Another shareholder is Anne Wojcicki, the former wife of Google’s Sergey Brin and co-founder of genomics company 23andMe.

 

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