Independent Sponsor Spotlight: Maury Bradsher of District Equity

August 31, 2023

The interview below is part of a series from McGuireWoods that features interviews with impressive independent sponsors as part of our ongoing commitment to the independent sponsor community. To recommend an independent sponsor for a future interview, email Jon Finger at [email protected].

Q: Why did you decide to become an independent sponsor?

Maury Bradsher: Having spent several years in the national defense and security industry, I saw a unique opportunity to leverage my expertise and connections to identify promising investments and facilitate their growth. As an independent sponsor, I could be more hands-on with these investments and make decisions more flexibly and swiftly, which is often critical in our fast-paced industry.

In addition, being an independent sponsor requires you to be proactive in identifying and addressing problems. I have to be prepared to wear many hats, from deal-sourcing and due diligence to capital-raising and problem-solving. These skills and experiences are invaluable when working alongside private equity firms and family offices.

Q: How long have you been operating as an independent sponsor, and how long did it take you to close your first deal?

MB: I’ve been operating as an independent sponsor for the better part of two decades now, since 2006. It took around a year and a half to close my first deal. The initial stage brought with it a learning curve. I needed to gain a better understanding of the nuances of sourcing capital, carry out due diligence and negotiate deals without the backing of a large fund.

Q: What are some of the most impactful reasons you think the independent sponsor model has grown so robustly, and what changes do you envision in the future?

MB: I think people have come to greatly appreciate working with sponsors who have domain expertise in a particular vertical as well as sponsors who have built-in credibility and relationships, flexibility in dealmaking and proprietary deal flow. These qualities, along with the potential for high returns, have all contributed to the growth of the sponsor model. The independent sponsor model allows us to tailor each deal based on its unique requirements and market dynamics.

For the future, I envision more structure and standardization in terms of deal terms and processes. We might also see more collaboration between independent sponsors as this model continues to mature.

Q: What are the most common misperceptions about the independent sponsor model?

MB: One common misperception is that independent sponsors are just “brokers in disguise.” In reality, we are deeply involved in managing and guiding the companies we invest in. Another misperception is that being an independent sponsor is riskier due to the lack of committed capital. While there are challenges in raising funds deal by deal, the model also allows us to be more selective and focused on our investments. Additionally, as you successfully close deals with certain capital partners, trust develops. This allows the sponsor to collaborate with these trusted partners on multiple deals. 

Another misperception is that being an independent sponsor is riskier due to the lack of committed capital. While there are challenges in raising funds deal by deal, the model also allows us to be more selective and focused on our investments.

Q: Recognizing every deal is different, what are some of the most important considerations for you when choosing a capital partner for a deal?

MB: Each deal does indeed come with its own set of considerations. Generally, when choosing a capital partner, it’s essential they understand and align with our investment thesis. I’ve had challenges working with new capital providers trying to get up to speed in national security, so it’s important that they recognize the intricacies of the national defense and security industry. Beyond just capital, I value partners who can provide industry expertise, connections or operational support.

About Maury Bradsher

Maury Bradsher currently serves as the chairman and CEO of District Equity (DE), the manager and holding company for a series of private equity investments across defense, healthcare, cybersecurity, real estate and entertainment. Through DE, Bradsher has successfully restructured and recapitalized multiple businesses into award-winning enterprises. He is a highly successful and unique entrepreneur with broad experience gained as a corporate financier, operator and adviser.

Bradsher has advised some of the world’s most sophisticated organizations and family offices. He has executed transactions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, totaling more than $67 billion in value. Bradsher has decades of experience serving on corporate boards across various assignments, including finance, audit, risk, compensation and board nomination committees.

Bradsher serves on the board of The MITRE Corp., MICA Biosystems (chair), WWC Global (vice chair), Verijet Holdings Co. and Toffler Associates. He serves as senior adviser to Star Mountain Capital and as a trustee for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, where he is the benefactor for the Vernon E. Jordan Jr. Presidential Fellowship. Bradsher earned his B.S. degree from North Carolina A&T State University and his MBA from New York University.