Case Study: Custom House

Explore this investment 09.02.09

Fast Facts

  • Ability to Respond Quickly
  • Minority Investor

In 2004, when Great Hill Partners met Peter Gustavson, the founder and CEO of Custom House, Peter had already built a very successful business providing a wide array of foreign exchange services to the corporate and consumer markets in seven countries throughout the world. Although he did not need additional capital at the time, we maintained an ongoing dialogue.

Later the next year, Peter and his advisors determined that they needed a financial partner to take advantage of organic and acquisition-based growth opportunities. After running a competitive process, Peter signed an letter of intent with another financial partner — a partner that later tried to change the terms of the deal.

Peter reached back out to us to see if we could move forward on our original proposal and get the deal done in a compressed time frame. Our answer was yes.

Peter commented, “I was feeling a little frustrated by my initial exposure to private equity firms, but the team at Great Hill jumped into action and delivered on everything they promised. Although they have a minority interest in the company, they added real value by helping analyze potential acquisitions, assisting with my financing strategy, and thinking through a variety of strategic issues as we continue to drive the worldwide growth of Custom House.

The company was sold to The Western Union Company in September 2009 for $370 million, despite exiting during one of the worst recessions in decades.