Financial site: Trading & Economic

Q&a how josé andrés grew from apprentice to top chef


Award-winning chef and restaurateur José Andrés got his start the old-fashioned way - as a teenage apprentice. Andrés worked his way up from a convention center restaurant in Barcelona to an American-based food empire in ThinkFoodGroup, which includes acclaimed restaurants, catering services and a food truck. Now 47, Andres just received two Michelin stars for his Washington, D. C.-based restaurant minibar, and was recently honored by President Barack Obama with a National Humanities Medal. Andres has even made headlines for a restaurant he did not open, at President-elect Donald Trump's new hotel in Washington, D. C., for which he is still embroiled in a $10 million breach of contract lawsuit. Andrés had a chat with Reuters about the life lessons he has learned along his this site: What did your first job at that convention center teach you?A: There were four people in the kitchen and sometimes we were serving 200 or 300 people at once. What I learned was that as a worker, when you work and you make yourself useful and indispensable, your value always increases. Q: When you were starting your own business, what lessons about money stuck with you?A: It was 1994 that I got my first loan from a bank to pay for a little investment in a restaurant with my partner, Cafe Atlantico in Miami.

We weren’t super prepared. The restaurant did OK but two or three years later, it closed. The life lesson was that if you don’t raise your own money, you don’t really learn the value of owning something. We all have dreams but at the end of the day, the numbers have to make sense. Bills have to be paid and salaries and rent - you cannot escape that fate. Q: What did you buy with your first paycheck?A: I bought a cookbook - "The Escoffier Cookbook and Guide to the Fine Art of Cookery." Knowledge is power and that book was like the heart of French cooking. That’s a book that’s been very important in my life. I also bought a Supertramp cassette of a concert in Paris. It gave me a lot of joy.

Q: What has become your secret to business success? A: Make quick decisions. It’s almost like Darwin in the business world. The strongest will survive and adaptation is key. I’ve been fairly good at evolving - I never graduated from a school and I didn’t have a normal studying life but I kept learning as I kept moving. I was a cook, then I became a chef, then I had an investment partner, then I became an owner. I always knew what I lacked and always tried to surround myself with people who had what I lacked or what I needed more of. Q: As you became more established in your career, what did you learn about handling your personal wealth?

A: I've never been a good handler of money. In my house, my wife manages our finances. I don't even know what’s in the book. If she leaves me one day, I don't even know my bank account number. Once you believe in somebody, make sure you choose well so you can concentrate on other things. Q: You and your wife started a non-profit, World Central Kitchen, in 2012. How does this fit into your philosophy on giving back? A: Hunger issues are very much at the heart of it for me. I've been involved in a lot of things like L. A. Kitchen, Capital Food Fight and Martha’s Table. The lesson here is to put money and commitment into something you care about - at the end of the day, food is so much at the heart of everything to me. Q: What money lessons do you pass down to your daughters (ages 12, 14 and 17)?A: Sometimes I feel like the more physical things we own, the less free we are. Making money somehow is easy - saving money somehow is very difficult. So don't really spend the money on the things that are that one more thing you're going to be selling at your garage sale. Time is money and every day the clock is ticking and every day we have less time. So I will say that I want to die rich of experiences and moments. I don't want to die rich with an immense quantity of belongings.

Rlpc mezz loans revived as bonds wilt


* BSN taps 391.5 mln euro mezz loan* Volatile high yield markets prompt switch to mezz* Bidders for Iglo consider mezzanineBy Isabell Witt and Claire RuckinLONDON, June 12 Challenging high yield bond markets are prompting borrowers in European leveraged buyout (LBO) deals to access mezzanine loans, lured by better pricing and greater stability. Private equity firm EQT opted for a mezzanine loan over a high yield issue to finance its 1.8 billion euro buyout of German bandages maker BSN Medical. Other private equity firms bidding in auctions including Europe's biggest frozen food company Iglo Group are expected to follow suit, a sign that mezzanine loans and private high yield bonds are making a comeback. Borrowers have in the past typically favoured cheaper and more transparent high yield bonds, but as the euro zone crisis takes its toll on credit markets they are now switching to cheaper and more stable alternatives.

The BSN buyout is backed by 740 million euro of senior and 391.5 million euro of mezzanine loans. The mezzanine is provided by Highbridge Principal Strategies, JP Morgan Mezzanine, KKR Asset Management, MezzVest and Partners Group."In the current market, we wanted more certainty for the financing and a senior, mezzanine structure was therefore a better option. In terms of pricing, the high yield bond was not favourable. The mezzanine provided stability and certainty and to some extend transaction speed," said Marcus Brennecke, partner at EQT Partners in Germany. The mezzanine loan carries an interest margin of 11.5 percent, lower than the rate charged by banks to issue a high yield bond - which was considered by sponsors during the auction phase - as the euro zone crisis leaves high yield bond markets broadly shut. BSN would have to pay as much as 18 percent in order to access the high yield market in the current climate, one mezzanine investor and one banker said.

The decision to opt for a senior and mezzanine financing structure clinched the deal for EQT against rival bidders in the process, banking sources said."EQT offered a very simple, fully committed and funded financing package, which they could move quickly with. It was very attractive," a banker on the deal said.

OPPORTUNITIES Uncertainty in the high yield bond market is providing an investment opportunity that mezzanine investors, which have experienced a pick-up in enquiry, have awaited for some time. BSN's mezzanine is the largest since Swedish alarm maker Securitas Direct's 393.5 million euro mezzanine-type bond in August."We are extremely busy and the uncertainty in the macro environment helps us. The high yield market is very choppy...and we are seeing a clear trend that sponsors for the bigger deals have discussions very early on with mezzanine houses because they want to have predictable financing arrangements prior to bid deadlines," said Rene Biner, head of private finance at Partners Group. Potential bidders for the 3 billion pounds Iglo sale have started discussions with mezzanine investors to arrange around 600 million pounds of mezzanine financing or private high yield bonds to back a buyout. Mezzanine loans are also appearing on mid-sized LBOs: French optical retailer Alain Afflelou obtained a 110 million euro mezzanine loan in May, while the roughly 400 million euro loan for Swedish installation service provider Bravida and the roughly 220 million pound loan for Dairy Crest's French spreads business St Hubert could also include mezzanine debt, banking sources said."Over the past year the banks got aggressive and were doing highly leveraged all senior deals. That time is over now. Regulation is killing the ability of banks to take on risk. This means there is more space for the mezzanine investors as the banks become less aggressive," the first banker said.