Firmex Chats with Jurgis Oniunas, Chairman of IMAP

Firmex’s CCO, Mark Wright, sat down with IMAP’s chairman, Jurgis Oniunas, to talk about post-pandemic recovery, digitization, and the importance of the personal approach to the deal.


Jurgis Oniunas is the chairman of the Board of Directors of International M&A Partners (IMAP), an organization made up of independent member firms conducting mergers and acquisitions globally in the middle market. A Firmex client since 2007, IMAP got in on the ground floor and as Oniunas said, “We’ve grown together.” Born in Lithuania, Oniunas grew up in the United State and completed his undergraduate and masters degrees in Electrical and Nuclear Engineering, respectively, before achieving his MBA in Finance and International Business at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Oniunas has had over 40 successful years in entrepreneurship, new business development, private investing, financing and financial structuring, organization development, and M&A. At the helm of IMAP, Oniunas steers the organization to be aligned on collective principles that drive and unite IMAP’s member firms. As Oniunas said, “it’s all about energy and chemistry and some willingness to see all of our partners succeed.” 

“The key is to change with new information and not be stuck in old ways of thinking.”

Jurgis Oniunas, Chairman of IMAP

When Firmex’s Mark Wright met with Oniunas in November over a video call, IMAP was gearing up to host a conference in Lisbon with a focus on ESG investing (Oniunas noted that IMAP’s debt advisory groups are already very involved in ESG criteria.) The conference was set to kickoff with a presentation from the chairman of Goldman Sachs International and former European Commission president, José Manuel Borosso. With IMAP members tuning in from Tokyo to Los Angeles, the conference exemplifies the IMAP way: creating opportunities for cross-border cooperation and collaboration over shared values. 

Shared values are something Oniunas highlights as a key differentiator for IMAP’s success. Oniunas was quick to comment that in an industry where so many parties are striving for the same goals, it’s not about being unique so much as it’s about approaching and achieving those goals well. “What sets people apart,” he said, is “how successful you are in meeting your objectives.” For Oniunas, part of that success comes from selecting partners who align well with IMAP’s existing members. “We’re quite picky on who we bring into IMAP,” Oniunas told Wright. “Compatibility is very important to us.” At IMAP, compatibility looks like professional standards that are consistent with IMAP’s globally, a partner’s relevancy and respected reputation in their market, an appropriate balance between market size and deal size, and international cooperation baked into the party’s business model. If this criteria and the jenesaisquoi of shared values can’t be met, IMAP is willing to walk away from the partnership. “If we can’t find the right partner in a particular market, so be it,” Oniunas said. “We’re building an organization that’s built on trust among the members, which is probably the most important characteristic of our network,” he added. 

“We’re building an organization that’s built on trust among the members, which is probably the most important characteristic of our network.”

Jurgis Oniunas, Chairman of IMAP

That trust means that IMAP can reliably deliver the support, experience and context that investors need to confidently make a deal. Oniunas recognizes that the overall wellbeing of the organization is made up of the individual member’s achievements. “We’re invested in making all of our partner’s successful,” he said. With a focus on serving entrepreneurs, IMAP recognizes the personal sacrifice and investment that it takes to build a company, and how difficult the process can be to eventually sell it. That means that in addition to IMAP’s advisory role as a dealmaking technician, Oniunas emphasizes the qualitative aspects of advisory support. “A very important part of our job is to act as guides,” he said. The same individualized attention and championing of success is applied to the private equity firms, family offices, and large corporates that IMAP works with as well.  

Due to the breadth and volume of work that IMAP does, Oniunas has some distinct insight on deal activity. When asked about what he’s seeing in terms of post-pandemic recovery, Oniunas pointed to common deal drivers like years of underinvestment, rush to digitalization, cheap debt, cash rich private equity and corporations, and ESG issues. “Since I see my role as more Cheerleader in chief than anything else,” Oniunas said, he turned to the expertise of IMAP’s dealmakers to testify to what M&A post-pandemic might look like. The message was the same across the world: it’s an unbelievably positive environment with some inflation-shaped clouds on the horizon. Oniunas commented that M&A is at an inflection point, referencing theories that what we’re seeing now might just be the first mini wave of a much larger M&A wave. IMAP’s approach is to monitor opportunities and sectors as they’re changing and to be prepared, strategic, and flexible for wherever comes.

Part of IMAP’s flexibility comes from the fact that the organization is not sector siloed. This allows for cross-pollination of ideas between sector experts and those who are experts on the emerging technologies changing traditional sectors. A network approach that leverages areas of specialization to create a multidisciplinary team is a powerful asset for deals. It requires a lot of research and continued learning for IMAP’s advisors, but Oniunas sees the effort pay off. “The key is to change with new information and not be stuck in the old ways of thinking,” he said. 

As for lessons learned during the pandemic? The obvious: you don’t have to get on a plane every time you need to have a meeting. Although time spent in taxis, airports, and hotels has been reclaimed, “it actually means that we’re working more!” Oniunas said. “We’re contacting more clients, but more efficiently,” Oniunuas pointed out, and IMAP’s teams are optimizing virtual tools while recognizing when personal interaction and subtle negotiation are required. While some companies have embraced tools like drones for due diligence, Oniunas advocates for the personal approach to the deal. “It’s not just mechanics. It’s psychology and it’s guidance,” he argued. “That part you can’t replace.”


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