19th and 20th May, 2009
Conferences and Workshops:
Record of Proceedings
Business transfer in Europe: a global issue, a local approach 4
First plenary session
Business transfer: is it all about awareness? 6
Summary of discussions 10
Second plenary session
The role of support services in the business transfer process 14
Workshop 1 - Strategies for raising the seller’s awareness 18
Workshop 2 - Towards a synergy between private and public organizations 22
Workshop 3 - Matching platforms: the best is yet to come 26
Closing ceremony 30
Lessons learned and conclusions 34
List of participants 38
Introduction Business transfer in Europe:
a global issue, a local approach
do not find a buyer. Another key point emphasized
by Jean-Claude Marcourt during this introduction is
the fact that takeovers have a lower failure rate than
start-ups (especially since the success rate of busi-
ness transfers is greater than that of start-ups).
Amongst other conclusions, he pointed to the
start-ups. importance of timely preparation (in the Nether-
Europe’s population is aging and the potential for lands and Austria, business owners approaching
business transfers is increasing. Often complex in What actions can be taken to improve SME trans- retirement age systematically receive notification
nature, business transfers can be doomed to failure, fers? Jean-Claude Marcourt referred to the impor- letters) and also visibility. Marko Curavic pointed
not because the company itself is not viable but tant work to be carried out in terms of the psycholo- out that only 10% of buyers are currently listed in
because of problems that occur during the transfer gical aspects of business transfers, still shrouded in electronic databases. It is widely regarded as a tou-
phase. What can we do to reverse this trend? extreme secrecy, and also in relation to matching, in chy area, shrouded in secrecy, however standards
order to determine the shortest and most efficient must be established in order to ensure that the data
path between sellers and buyers. contained in databases is of high quality and upda-
ted regularly. Another area requiring attention: the
In relation to the initiatives taken in the Walloon taxation system, which could be made more «trans-
region, the Minister spoke about the establishment fer friendly».
of Sowaccess in 2006, which has succeeded in
linking up more than 500 businesses in the space «Most people only transfer one business in their life-
of three years. This has resulted in 15 successful sale time, which does not allow them the opportunity to
transactions and the creation of a database compri- build up experience in this area. In Italy, they are cur-
sing 140 sellers and 150 buyers. rently running a pilot project focused on mentoring
and coaching SMEs. We will not know the results until
«Sowaccess has long-standing ties with its counter- the end of 2009 but we are confident that there will
parts in the Netherlands (MKBase) and France (CRA be valuable lessons for the other countries,» conclu-
- French national association for company sales and ded the representative of the Commission.
acquisitions). I am convinced that this type of part-
nership is vital to ensuring success. We can extend
this initiative to other European countries, hence the
reason for this meeting in Spa, which I’m hoping will
be fruitful» concluded Jean-Claude Marcourt.
Business transfers should receive the same
attention as start-ups
A nice lead in for Marko Curavic, the «voice of
Europe» in this introductory session. What is the
Hosting the two-day conference, Jean-Claude Mar- European Commission’s view on business trans- > Jean-Claude MARCOURT,
court announced that he was very pleased to open fers? And what does it actually do in this area? The Walloon Minister of Economy,
a series of seminars dedicated to the transfer of speaker began by confirming that one third of all Employment, Foreign Trade and
businesses, and SMEs in particular, across Europe. companies will have to transfer ownership over the Heritage (Belgium).
next ten years, a figure that translates into 690,000
Before getting to the heart of the proceedings, the businesses per year, or 2.8 million jobs per year.
Walloon Minister for the Economy reminded those in
attendance that the town of Spa, which welcomed The problem is not new and the European Commis- > Marko CURAVIC,
Europe’s royalty in the 19th century, has given its sion has been actively involved in this issue since
name to a common everyday term. The term «spa» 1994 when it issued a series of recommendations to E - Promotion of SME
describes a mineral spring, and more generally, the Member states. Things have progressed since competitiveness, European
thermal treatments. A nice success story in terms of then, with the Commission estimating that 65% of Commission (Croatia).
transferring concepts! its recommendations have now been adopted, nota-
bly in the area of taxation, legal matters, administra-
Takeovers have a healthy survival rate tive simplification, etc. However, there is still more
> Moderator: Eric WINNEN,
progress to be made, the biggest issue being that
On a more serious note, the Minister reminded those people are continuing to favour business start-ups General Manager, dialectiq sprl
present of the acuteness of the problem of trans- over business transfers.
ferring businesses in Europe. A European study has
shown that 30% of companies are in danger of fal- This is why the Commission is recommending that
ling by the wayside over the next ten years if they business transfers receive the same attention as
First plenary Business transfer: is it all about Are you a Monarch or an Ambassador? adopt another, less demanding role. For example, he
awareness? can become an advisor, which brings considerable
session Two keynote speakers from Canada and Belgium,
both from an academic background, presented
Staying with the issue of time, Johan Lambrecht
from Belgium agreed that a business transfer is
not a single event but a process, one that generally
added value, both to the company and to the suc-
cessor or employees. However, strategic decisions
should always be shared with the buyer, otherwise
a number of key issues relating to the transfer of starts as soon as children are born and can last up to you cannot say that the business has really been
businesses. This gave rise to a prolonged discus- 35 years! Director of the Research Centre for Entre- transferred.”
sion with other international experts. The first preneurship, Johan Lambrecht kept the audience
plenary session also included a case study from a amused by developing a typology of sellers ranging Johan Lambrecht also rebelled against the theory
seller, Michel Engels, who came to share his own from the «Monarch» type on one end of the scale sometimes conveyed in the political domain whe-
experience. (will never leave the company, remaining there until reby family successions are successful and sales
death), to the «General» type (succeeds in making to third parties are failures. «Although the issue is
This plenary session started with a Canadian expert the transition but with difficulty), to the «Ambas- about the continuity of businesses, continuity has
in business transfer: Louise Cadieux, Professor at sador» type (remains on in a reduced capacity to numerous dimensions, notably the continuity of the
University of Québec-Trois Rivières, chose to speak provide advice) to the «Governor» type on the other family estate».
to the audience about the behaviour of business end of the scale (who definitively turns the page).
owners in the context of changing roles. When busi- To finish his presentation, Johan Lambrecht invited
ness owners leave their company, they are effecti- The Belgian Professor openly challenged a num- business owners to reflect on two questions:
vely stepping down from a well-defined role, that of ber of common ideas in circulation on the subject > What is it exactly that I want to continue?
«MD», to face into the unknown. Which explains the of transfers. The fact, for example, that the seller > What is the best way of ensuring this continuity?
degree of resistance observed in business owners MUST let go. «It’s perfectly enviseagable for him to
selling their companies: fear of loosing their status
of «hero», problems relating to the distribution of
assets to children and multiple types of other ques-
tions all constitute a source of uncertainty and are CASE STUdy By MICHEL ENgELS
viewed as a step backwards rather than forwards.
Entrepreneurial spirit, a family value
In short, even though the owner has made the deci-
sion to transfer the business, as a result of various Having spent more than 30 years at the helm of a The trigger for us occurred when a significant gap
types of triggers (I’m tired, I no longer feel challen- Top 10 company in the food ingredients industry, emerged between the multinationals and other
ged, my partner has health issues, etc.), they have the Engels family set up Synapsis in order to launch companies in the Top 10. Despite our size - 250
a tendency to postpone the actual «enactment» of other pMEs. The idea is to provide SMEs with the employees, 10 subsidiaries abroad, turnover of €50
this decision. The transfer itself is a very difficult time, energy, expertise and financial resources to million, we were still a very small company. To satisfy
period, a real shock to the system that can often lead grow their businesses. certain big customers, we would have had to set up
to a bad patch for the business owner. It’s generally factories everywhere. In terms of scale, we were a
at this stage that those who had previously been European company, not a global company. This was
supporting the business owner (accountants, nota- Mine is not your typical background. I started out a difficult area for us.
ries, consultants, etc.) now remove themselves from working with my father. In 1974, we both left our
the situation. Louise Cadieux spoke openly about a employer to set up Perlarom, a company opera- When we were finally approached by a player offe-
«grieving process, coupled with the loss of a social ting in the food ingredients sector. Supported by ring something other than money, we began to
network and the need to engage in a process of outstanding individuals, our company went on to consider our options carefully. We effectively had a
adaptation, along with partners, friends and other become an undisputed player in the drink, yoghurt, moral responsibility towards nearly 300 families.
social networks». ice-cream and confectionary sector. It even succee-
ded in being listed among the Top 10 flavour manu- To ensure continuity both in terms of the business
In summary, Louise Cadieux emphasized the facturers worldwide. During this period, we were and our staff, we therefore decided to align Pelarom
concept of time: transferring a business is a lengthy approached on a frequent basis - not unlike pretty with a large group in 2002. Our own plan was to
process that must respect the pace set by the busi- girls - by big names in the profession wanting to continue working in a family business. Three former
ness owner. Business transfer professionals could be speak to us about our plans for selling or succes- employees joined us in this entrepreneurial venture.
better integrated right across this time line (before, sion. I listened to what they had to say. Apart from The idea is to enable entrepreneurs to benefit from
during, after). eliminating a competitor, I never really understood our 30 years of experience in the food sector. Synap-
what their intentions were for our company. There sis - the name of the new structure – was launched
was no business plan. So the response from our side in 2003, with the objective of taking shareholdings
was always negative. in 5 to 10 SMEs.
What the international experts had to say
Various international experts on the panel were invi-
ted to respond to the ideas put forward by the first
> Rosana Mirkovic from the UK supported the
idea that family continuity is not the only
possible route. On a broader level, actions
aimed at raising awareness about business
transfers are essential, but is this the role
of the State? The State has an enormous
number of tasks to complete on a fiscal and
financial level in order to put business trans-
fers on the same footing as business start-
> Representing France, Hugues-Arnaud Mayer To conclude this plenary session, the moderator
proposed a more modern way of viewing Eric Winnen asked participants for a concluding or
business transfers, which must be stripped summarizing statement. Here is a list of these sta- > Louise CAdIEUX, > Michel ENgELS,
of their sacred aura. Entrepreneurs have a tements: Professor, University of Québec – Chairperson of the Board C+
number of different lives and business trans- Trois Rivières (Canada). Investments (Belgium).
fers must no longer be viewed as the crow- > It is essential for a business-owning family
ning (or end?) of a career, but rather a step to be open to external shareholders. This
in a value creation process. What we learn forces to carry out a long-term reflection,
during our first entrepreneurial lifetime, and asking oneself the right questions.
our first profession, makes us more mature
> Johan LAMBRECHT, > Maarten ZEMANN,
and more able to take on new risks in a > There are many different transfer possibili-
Director of the Centre d’Etudes Director of Advies MKB
second profession, where we will also benefit ties: a family may well remain the owner with
pour l’Entrepreneuriat (Research Adviseurs & GIBO Groep
from having a better financial base. This new outside management. centre for entrepreneurship), (The Netherlands).
way of viewing business transfers favours EHSAL-K.U. Brussels (Belgium).
rotation and reflects the noble roots of the > Where possible, try to plan for unexpected
term «risk». It’s an approach that has been events: death, accidents, illness, etc.
advocated by the MEDEF who recommend
opening up share capital, to staff also, with > It takes great courage to admit that your son > Rosana MIRkOVIC, > Eric WINNEN,
the aim of creating a «new social contract» or daughter is not capable of or interested in Senior Policy Adviser - SME Unit, General Manager, dialectiq sprl
around risk-sharing. taking over the company. Association of Chartered Certified (Belgium).
> Representing the Netherlands, Maarten > The importance of Very Small Enterprises
Zemann emphasized the lack of buyers in (VSEs), which receive very little support
the current economic context. He believes and constitute the «great forgotten» when it
that it is a more significant problem today comes to business transfers.
than that of raising awareness. There is a > Hugues-Arnaud MAyER,
multitude of professionals operating in the Chairperson of MEDEF Auvergne,
market, but the question for potential sel- member of the executive board of
lers is to know who they can turn to. In this
regard, access to objective, reliable informa-
tion is a crucial step in promoting business
European Café Summary of discussions 1. Networking 4. Cross-border potential for sellers and
On 19th May last, from 12.00 to 13.15, an original The majority of the participants came to this first
networking session formed the agenda for the session of the European conference on the trans- Finally, another important expectation on the part
Transeo conference. Taking the form of a round- fer of SMEs in order to extend their network and of the participants was to be able to benefit from
table discussion, it allowed the participants to dis- establish new contacts with other experts from cross-border matching between sellers and buyers
cuss and familiarize themselves with two basic but European countries, but also with a view to being and to jointly consider the possibility of collabora-
fundamental questions: why they came to the Tran- able to guide their customers towards good oppor- tion at a European level. In fact, some participants
seo conference and what their expectations were tunities beyond national borders. Some people did stated that there is every need to remove the psy-
prior to this first session on the one hand, and the express regret at not meeting buyers or sellers of chological barrier associated with «the newly arri-
impact of the economic crisis on their business on SMEs, remarking that there were too many «third ved foreigner» and to be able to offer companies
the other hand. parties» present (consultants, public officials, etc.)… as extensive and diverse a range of opportunities
However, the intention of the organizers of the for sales and acquisitions as possible. Another
Transeo conference was to create a forum aimed at approach that was mentioned would be to increase
professionals involved in the transfer of SMEs rather the number of certified partners across Europe and
than companies. to create cross-border databases, bearing in mind
the necessary level of rigour and complexity that
2. Sharing best practice this would involve. Another related approach would
be to improve the transparency of information in
The other reason mentioned by the majority of order to enable the emergence of a genuine market
participants was the desire to share best practice for SME transfers on a European scale.
and learn about the experiences of other countries
in advancing the issues affecting SME transfers.
Moreover, the four issues identified as high-priority
by the organizers of the Transeo conference (and
by the European Commission, which by means of
its representatives at the forum, Mr. Curavic and Mr.
Jaegers, recognized that these four key questions
were fundamental and common to all countries of
the European Union) were the focal point for the
participants. They wanted to be able to learn about
practices and experiences beyond their national
borders, especially with regard to creating and
operating matching platforms between sellers and
buyers, identifying and raising the awareness of
Prior to the session, each participant was allocated potential sellers and buyers and also with regard to
an «appointment» at one table for the first part of supporting these sellers and buyers.
the discussion, and another table for the second
part of the discussion. This European Café was a 3. Assessment of knowledge and expertise
great success and many participants even admitted
that they would have liked it to have gone on longer, The participants’ third expectation was to take
as the discussions and meetings were so interesting. stock of specific knowledge relating to the transfer
The principle of the Café was simple: 18 tables of of SMEs, whether in terms of research, especially
10 people, with each table bearing the name of a university research, national regulations or the
European capital city, and approximately one hour mechanisms and structuring of a business transfer
to discuss two questions. Each table was chaired by in each country. This also included an appraisal of
one moderator, whose task was to moderate and the institutional and private sector landscape in
take note of the main threads of the participants’ terms of the services aimed at raising awareness,
discussions. We would also like to thank the mode- providing support and facilitating matching in the
rators once again for their contribution and for business transfer sector.
enabling us to gather the impressions, thoughts
and outcome of the conversations, which we have
summarized for you below.
During the second part of the European Café, the In terms of the value of companies, some partici- They do not know if this is the right time to buy In these times of financial instability, the participants
participants were invited to discuss the impact of pants stated that a lot of entrepreneurs are interes- and some are waiting for more information about have noted that consultants are called upon more
the economic crisis on their business. The discus- ted in determining the value of their company but forecasted results for 2009, as they are well aware often than before. Some have noted an increase
sions show that the economic crisis has well and do not really have any intention of selling it. Further- that opportunities arise during a recession. in the number of audit requests as banks are only
truly affected the business transfer sector. more, the value of companies should be decreasing, retaining business plans that are sound and well
but this still does not appear to be the case because With regard to the funding of takeovers, the parti- thought out.
The participants have observed a considerable companies are often valued based on a multiple of cipants remarked that accessing credit has become
slowing down of the market, particularly due to a the result achieved in previous years. more complicated and that interest rates remain
discrepancy between the price expected by sellers, high for the buyer. In addition, buyers who had
whose reference standards still date back to before The crisis has had an effect on the various players placed their share capital on the Stock Exchange
the crisis, and buyers who are no longer ready to involved in the transfer process. In terms of sellers, have seen a drop in their potential contribution.
pay a figure based on this type of valuation. some stated that sellers who have already begun Some buyers are therefore putting their projects on
actively searching for a buyer are not really discou- the back burner for now. Given the more rigorous
The number of transfer transactions also appears raged by the crisis and are continuing their transfer selection criteria applied when obtaining funding
to be declining. In France, for example, since the plans, while other sellers are restricted from selling for a transfer, buyers are now structuring their offer
beginning of 2009, the number of business trans- because of their financial difficulties and their need better: a good offer means good financing. Likewise,
fers has dropped by around 15 to 20%, despite the for liquidity in order to guarantee the continuity of successful portfolios are more solid on average and
large supply of businesses available for sale. their business. Finally, some sellers are waiting for a should have a better debt ratio.
more dynamic economic environment before put-
As regards pricing, they have observed pressure ting their company up for sale. As for buyers, it is The crisis has also affected investors. Investors and
to reduce prices, even though the price is the final clear that the crisis is making them more uncertain venture capital companies are also more hesitant.
stage of the process. It is therefore possible to buy and hesitant. Some investors have observed that there are more
small companies that are still financially healthy and more business angels who can sometimes be
at reduced prices. Another observation was that less professional than larger fund managers. On the
prices are more often set in terms of multiples of whole, the feeling is that there is a reduction in the
previous year figures. level of risk-taking by investors.
For reasons of time, it is clear that some transac- In terms of banks, they are also seen as being less
tions are being put on hold. Furthermore, the trans- open and more cautious. The banks seem more
fer process is taking more time (12 to 18 months). reluctant to provide access to funding, or are put-
The process is longer because buyers are reflecting ting requests on hold rather than making a decision.
more on the quality of the offer and often have a In general, it appears that more time is required
real project in mind. There has effectively been a to obtain funding. Personal contributions play a
return to basics. Having a vision and strategy counts greater role than before and banks are requesting
now more than ever. Finally, keeping with the issue higher guarantees. Finally, the assumptions made
of time, some consulting practices are recommen- by the banks when it comes to business plans are
ding to their customers that they should defer sales more conservative. Accessing funding has become
transactions. more complex and the criteria for acceptance more
demanding, but as explained above, this allows the
more cohesive structuring of projects.
Second plenary The role of support services in the
business transfer process
Christopher kummer, President of the Institute of
Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances, a think tank
public authorities elicited various different respon-
ses from the speakers.
based in Zurich, was called on to set the scene.
> For French man yannick Hoche, from the
What role should the public sector play in the A study on 120,000 transactions carried out APCE, the French business start-up agency,
transfer process? What are the roles and com- between 1995 and 2008 highlighted that the num- the architecture between the private and
petencies of private advisors working in this ber and type of advisors involved in a business public sector must be based on two prin-
field? What types of synergies can or should be transfer largely depend on its complexity. Along- ciples: that of cooperation, «knowing when
developed between the private and public sector? side traditional roles such as financial consul- to pass on the baton», and that of compe-
These questions form the focus of this second tants, project managers, accountants, tax experts, tition, which leads to best practice. In short,
plenary session. legal experts, other competencies come into play the role played by the public sector should
such as IT consultants, environment specialists, HR focus on providing information and training,
specialists, public relations specialists, insurance and on ensuring that people find the best
specialists, etc. «Private consultants essentially», player on the market. By way of example,
comments Christopher Kummer, who admitted that he referred to the website of the French
he is not at all clear about the role to be played by business start-up agency APCE (apce.com),
public authorities in the area of business transfers. which receives 14 million visits each year,
providing answers to questions about «who
The seller’s focus of attention exceeds that of simply does what», «within what parameters», etc.
calculating the value of their company. The question «Which means that the private sector is now
is more existential: what are you going to do with being approached by customers who are
my «baby»? What are your plans for my SME? This well prepared». And even if some overlap-
is where the heart of the challenge lies, because the ping exists between the public and private
process goes well beyond that of simply assembling sector, everyone wins out in the end because
the various pieces of a puzzle. the customers are more competent».
Lex Van Teeffelen, Professor at Utrecht, was then > In the Wallon region, the public sector esta-
called on to complete this overall review of the blished SOWACCESS which has assumed
situation. The Dutch expert began by noting that the dual role of raising awareness and pro-
progress seems to have been made on the issue of viding a business matching platform (data-
raising awareness: «whenever I take part in semi- base of buyers and sellers with accreditation
nars on the subject of business transfers, there is of support professionals). For Jean-pierre di
generally a maximum of 20 participants. The fact Bartolomeo, Chairperson of the Board, the
that I now find myself at an international conference role of the public sector is not to pit itself
attended by over 200 people proves that the cam- «against» the private sector but more to
paign to raise awareness is working well!» intervene in a complementary role in those
areas where the private sector is not invol-
The expert reported on two studies currently availa- ved. «Thanks to our partners in France and
ble (Allisson 2007, De Waard 2002) which indicate the Netherlands, we are able to widen the
that business transfer advisors are generally not scope for business matching opportunities.
interested in dealing with SMEs (they are too costly On a broad level, our activities tend to focus
for them). This is clearly a shame since 90% of trans- on increasing transparency and the flow of
fers take place within microbusinesses of less than transactions». It’s also worth noting the «fil-
10 employees. Like his colleague from Zurich, Lex tering» role played by Sowaccess, because
Van Teeffelen pointed to the extreme diversity of the quality of those professionals affiliated
advisors, with the marked predominance of char- with the matching platform is validated by
tered accountants, ahead of bankers, chambers of an Accreditation committee and an Ethics
commerce, etc. The problem here being that these committee. «It’s a question of credibility»,
specialists are only specialists in one small area, commented Jean-Pierre Di Bartolomeo,
which effectively means that there is no common speaking about the financial role played
thread to provide a degree of cohesiveness throu- by the public sector. For example, Sowalfin
ghout the entire process. (parent company of Sowaccess) provides
funding to between 60 and 80 companies
Should this common thread be provided by the per year in the context of business trans-
public sector? The scope of the role played by the fers.
> A member of the Ethics committee mentio- > «Coordination and providing information
ned by Jean-Pierre Di Bartolomeo, Laurent are crucial,» indicated Jean-Marie Catabelle,
Weerts (Belgian institute for family enter- Chairperson of the CCR, the French non-
prise) believes that the action taken by the profit making group for business buyers
public authorities in Wallonia has provided and sellers, which plays this cross-functional
a real stimulus for business transfers. «The role in France, while also providing expe-
public sector fully understood the impor- rience and strategic advice. «The business
tance of having ethical players, and through transfer environment is rife with advisors of
its filtering role, it has given an important every description. It’s therefore important
signal: the Sowaccess platform is not «an to clearly define the role of each player, and
old boys club», it is entirely professional». more importantly, to communicate this role
In terms of best practice, the consultant properly», he says. The French expert said SpEAkERS
also pointed to the self-assessment tool that he does not really support subsidies;
developed by Sowaccess that allows all the role of the public sector is more to make
potential sellers to ask themselves the right the environment favourable to business, and
> Jean-Marie CATABELLE, > yannick HOCHE,
questions before getting in contact with to raise public awareness about the impor-
any professionals. Staying with the role tance of business transfers. President, CRA (France). Manager with responsibility for
of the public sector, Laurent Weerts
APCE (French business start-up
denounced the gap to be filled in terms of agency) (France).
SME transactions, since 90% of transactions
involving 0-9 employees have no advisors!!
(See contribution from Lex Van Teeffelen)
> Christopher kUMMER, > Lex Van TEEFFELEN,
President, The Institute of Mergers, Consultancy programme
Acquisitions and Alliances - IMAA manager - Business transfer
(Switzerland - Autriche). research leader, Hogeschool
Utrecht, Knowledge Centre for
Innovation in Business, Faculty
of Economics and Management
> Jean-pierre di BARTOLOMEO,
Chairperson of the board,
> Laurent WEERTS, > Moderator: Eric WINNEN,
Managing Director the Institut de General Manager,
l’Entreprise Familiale (Institute dialectiq sprl (BELGIUM).
for family enterprise) & Deloitte
Workshop 1 Strategies for raising the seller’s
Remaining on as Managing Director for three years
following the sale, Maarten Van de Kimmenade
admitted to having had a lot of difficulty changing
while respecting the confidentiality of ongoing
roles and handing over power. However, this phase The after-sales phase began on 16th March 2009
To sell or not to sell? Business owners are often also allowed him to regain his freedom, which he when the papers were signed. «The merger with
not very well informed about the opportunities put to good use by pursuing a course in psychol- Franki will come into effect in 2010, but everybody
available to them. Misconceptions are rife when it ogy. His thesis for his doctorate, which he obtained knows the future organizational structure already.
comes to business transfers. How do you improve in 2003 from the University of Tilburg, was pre- The staff will continue to be informed. Reforme must
this situation and take the drama out of selling? A cisely based on the psychological aspects of selling also make a point of leaving its «mark» and its refer-
sample of some of the questions addressed in this a family business. His personal experience and aca- ence values on the new structure.» Throughout this
Workshop. demic career path also led him to found «De Fami- whole venture, what Raymond Arnould considered
liebedrijven Adviesgroep» (Family business advice of most importance was the support provided by
group) in order to help entrepreneurs find the right external advisors who play a strategic role, not only
balance between the emotional and rational aspects in the evaluation stage, but also in finding buyers,
of their business decisions. setting schedules and organizing communication
between seller and buyer, particularly by means of
In 2005, the Dutch native again experimented the sales contract.
with reselling his «business» by selling his consult-
ing practice, although he still retained the role of Following these two case studies, the floor was
«Supervising Director». Today, his involvement is opened up to support agents, both public and pri-
more in the capacity of coach rather than on an vate.
> Roger Clement, from the British practice
The second case study was provided by Raymond Moore Stephens (with 300 offices in 44
Arnould, Managing Director of Reforme, a Belgian countries) began by examining the various
company operating in the construction industry. motivations that can lead an entrepreneur
With a background in civil engineering, Raymond to sell their business. Apart from purely
Arnould is neither a seller nor a buyer. However, financial motives, there are often other rea-
he was viewed as a «stable lynch pin» during the sons for selling a business: family reasons,
process of Immobel selling its shares in Reforme to request from other shareholders, retirement,
Franki. This is also the reason why he was recruited health issues, disputes, divorce, death, etc.
in 2004 to prepare the sale of the company, which
employed 120 people at the time, generating a > One of the major difficulties is that advi-
turnover of €35 million. This whole process started sors are often only interested in the sale
with a need for greater autonomy from the parent transaction. They do not ask questions like:
To add some perspective to this Workshop, the par- company, which by that time generated the bulk of Why are you selling? What do you want?
ticipants listened to two quite telling case studies, the turnover. This meant that it was not only neces- What will you do afterwards? It is precisely
each very different. sary to «cut the umbilical cord», but also to radi- to help inspire this type of reflection that
cally change the organizational structure, by clearly Sowaccess, based in the Walloon region of
The first case study came from the Netherlands. redefining the functions and responsibilities of each Belgium, set up a free and anonymous self-
Maarten Van de kimmenade was 20 years old when employee and investing in modern equipment, assessment questionnaire. As explained by
his father died, forcing him, without any prepara- while ensuring the profitability of the company and Julie Lebèque, this questionnaire is based
tion, to take over the family roofing business, which enhancing its corporate image. on 90 questions that allow business owners
his grandfather had founded in 1905. «The first few to cover a range of different topics such as:
years were very difficult,» he recalled, «but over time The sale itself dragged out from March 2008 to investment, human resources, tangible and
I learned to master the technical and financial sides March 2009. «An exhausting period,» according intangible assets, management style, etc.
of things. The business became profitable. 25 years to Raymond Arnould, «because we had to con- More than 400 questionnaires were fully
on I decided to sell it to an English company listed tinue running the company while still managing the completed, a prerequisite for the two days
on the Stock Exchange. That was in 1987 and we had sale». He believes that objectivity and transparency of consultancy provided by one of the 84
140 employees.» should be the cornerstones to creating conditions certified professionals (partly financed by
of trust between former and future shareholders. Sowaccess). In the area of raising aware-
Transparency must also apply to staff, who will obvi- ness, Sowaccess also developed another
ously be asking themselves a lot of questions during tool in the form of a practical guide, offered
this whole process: it’s important to keep them in to 8,000 Walloon SMEs and 6,000 advisors.
the loop with regard to the progress of the project,
> Stating that he is «amazed on a daily basis A number of considerations emerged from the dis-
at the poor level of preparation on the part cussions that followed:
of sellers», Lionel Canis (from the French
practice Cesacq, a specialist in supporting > Raising awareness should stimulate a con-
SMEs of 10 to 60 employees with a turnover sidered reflection process and lead the seller
between €1 million and €20 million) went on towards the right players.
to add that misconceptions are rife when it
comes to transfers. According to this expert > It should also encourage the seller to accept
from France, VSEs are not at all inclined to an external and professional point of view.
enlist the services of an advisor, because
«they do not want to prostitute themselves». > In fact, the buyers are often better prepared
Misconception number one is therefore than the sellers.
«I am not a seller, I’m going to wait for some-
one to contact me», whereas a professional > Between 20% and 40% of business owners
could provide up 30 potential candidates. will experience health problems one day and SpEAkERS
Misconception number two: «I have a poten- have nothing prepared for their succession.
tial buyer. I’ll check with him, call me back
later.» An unprofessional and manipulative > When the manager leaves, a different profile
> Maarten Van de kIMMENAdE, > Julie LEBEQUE,
approach which, according to Lionel Canis, of individual is required and not just a clone
strongly increases the risks and duration of of the original manager. This is why it is so CEO, De Familiebedrijven Platform Manager,
Adviesgroep (Family business SOWACCESS (Belgium).
a transaction. important to define the profile of the buyer
advice group) (The Netherlands).
at the outset.
> Lionel CANIS,
LESSONS FROM THIS WORkSHOp Groupe Cesacq (France). Moderators and reporters:
IN TERMS OF OBSERVATIONS:
> The act of transferring a business is a process. There is no real triggering event. > Ilja NOTHNAgEL,
> It’s a question that must also concern the buyer and not just the seller. Head of succession and business
> Raymond ARNOULd, continuity unit, division for
> The tools (guides, etc.) allow the entrepreneur to see the bigger picture. Economic Policy, SMEs and
CEO, Reforme sa (Belgium). Innovation at the Deutscher
Industrie- und Handelskammertag
IN TERMS OF AVENUES TO BE EXpLOREd: e.V. (DIHK) (Association of
> Public authorities and the media have a role to play in taking the drama out of German Chambers of Industry and
business transfers (as they have done for start-ups).
> Advice is important, but not just during the preparation stage. The seller must
> Roger CLEMENT, > Céline BARREdy,
find a role after the ink on the signatures has dried.
Managing Director M&A, University lecturer in
> We mention the seller a lot, but a company is made up of more than just one London, Moore Stephens Management Science, University
person. Employees are often pushed to one side during the transfer process: Corporate Finance (UK). of Montesquieu, Bordeaux IV
they should be kept in the loop and motivated. (France).
Workshop 2 Towards a synergy between private
and public organizations
The opacity of the market for business transfers
and shortcomings in terms of buyer support – at
both the beginning and end of the process – were
two of the main findings of the panel of experts
from several European countries, who spoke
during this Workshop.
«Before any commercial transaction enters into the For our French neighbours, «the first agency to In Finland, business takeovers are the responsibil-
equation, selling or buying a business is about hav- sponsor the buyer is Assedic (an organization man- ity of the Ministry of Employment and the Econ-
ing a good relationship between two people,» said aging unemployment contributions and payments, omy. «Regional development agencies also get in
pierre Coquard from France, Manager of Industria- the French equivalent of the Belgian organization direct contact with owners who are looking for a
Louyot, a company specializing in print communica- Onem),» according to Pierre Coquard. «It’s possible buyer,» explained Ninetta Chaniotou, Development
tion. Although his takeover – winner of the «Paris to continue receiving unemployment benefits up to Manager for the regional development company
Entreprendre» award in 2006 – was a success and the start of the takeover process.» But there is also a Kainuun Etu Oy. «The process can often be very
his business is doing well, this is not necessarily the wide range of organizations, both private and pub- drawn out, even convincing the seller to definitively
case for everyone. In France, according to statistics, lic, that support entrepreneurs, such as: Chambers cut ties with his business can take a long time».
one in every three companies that is sold files for of Commerce and Industry, agents, business net-
bankruptcy within five years of activity. According works (associations of business owners who offer Mentoring
to Bérangère deschamps, Doctor in Management their help for start-ups or business takeovers), Oseo
Science and author of a thesis on the process of (also known as a «public bank for SMEs»), banks, The European Association of Chambers of Com-
business takeovers by individuals, «Not much is said etc. «The only thing we might be short on is enthu- merce and Industry looked into the issue of post-
of what happens before and after the contract is siasm and positive energy,» stressed Hugues Franc, takeover follow-up. «A «mentoring» project (2007-
signed. However, supporting the buyer both before Director of the Paris business network. «Otherwise, I 2009) was launched in thirteen countries,» indicated
and after the sale itself is a key factor for success.» am confident about the future.» Bérangère Deschamps. In particular, it offers free
support for a period of between ten days and a
In Germany, the transfer of businesses is becoming Consultancy maximum of one year from the time the takeover
problematic because the situation has changed in contract is signed.» The Chambers of Commerce
the last few years. Two thirds of SMEs are owned by In Belgium, agent practices are not subject to the and Industry carry out an analysis of the situation.
families. Until the turn of the millennium, only 17% same restrictions as in France, remarked Frank Private experts then become involved as required.
were forced to find a successor outside the family Toussaint, associate at Intraco Consulting, a com- «In general, we observed that the buyer had a
fold. «As of the last number of years,» explains Arndt pany specializing in consultancy for the transport greater need for more personal support than tech-
Upfold from Ifex (an initiative for start-ups and busi- and logistics industry. «Which can sometimes under- nical assistance. As the buyer needs to be convinced
ness transfers), a department within the German mine the confidence of some buyers who have had very quickly, they need a neutral third party, a
Ministry of Economic Affairs (Baden-Württemberg), to deal with charlatans in the past…» specialist who understands them and who they can
«45% of SMEs now have to look outside the family. confide in without any fear.»
Within our ‘one-stop shop’, we are in the process of In Germany, consultancy is subsidised by the
setting up a department made up of mediators, spe- State. «It is not easy to manage,» quipped Arndt
cialists who search for potential buyers and support Upfold. «Because now, we suddenly have a large
sellers throughout the entire transfer process.» consultancy market, perhaps even bigger than the
business transfer market itself! The problem for us
is finding buyers. So we have set up a mediation
programme: agents make direct contact with
the sellers, assess their needs in terms of advice,
support, etc. So it all starts off with one-to-one
contact between individuals. It’s a system that works
Opaque market For pierre Coquard, the key to a successful takeover
lies in the more or less long-term support that is pro-
According to Hugues Franc, sellers are thin on the vided by the seller to the buyer. «Before any ques-
ground in the Paris region. Funds are easier to track tion of funding, the transfer of a business is first and
down! «In Germany,» indicated Arndt Upfold, «our foremost an exchange between two people. And I’m
online portal allows potential entrepreneurs access convinced of this: it’s not the buyer who chooses the
to a list of companies that are available for takeover. business, it’s the seller who chooses the buyer.»
However, this system is not very efficient. It appears SpEAkERS
that a lot of small SMEs are not very attractive. Even
so, is the information on these SMEs that’s encrypted
on the federal site attractive enough? Today we are
> Ninetta CHANIOTOU, > Frank TOUSSAINT,
trying to improve not so much the quality of these
Development Manager, Partner, Intraco Consulting
companies, but at least the quality of communica-
Kainuun Etu Oy (Finland). (Belgium).
tion!» In Belgium, potential buyers can also avail of
a similar IT tool. The future plan is to develop these
> pierre COQUARd, > Arndt UpFOLd,
Manager, Industria-Louyot Senior government official,
(France). Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-
Württemberg (Ministry of
Economic Affairs), Baden-
LESSONS FROM THIS WORkSHOp Württemberg (Germany).
IN TERMS OF OBSERVATIONS:
> Bérangère dESCHAMpS,
> The market is opaque (due to confidentiality reasons) and closed, resulting in a
lack of visibility and reliable information and insufficient levels of preparation for Lecturer, Institut d’Administration
business transfers. des entreprises de Grenoble
(Grenoble university graduate
> Diversity of the players: accountancy experts, auditors, associations, lawyers, business institute) (France). Moderators and reporters:
bankers, merger/acquisition experts, other possibly «unscrupulous» agents.
> How do you find the «right» advice? Who can you trust? How much does it
cost? (public being cheaper than private)? > Sonia BOUSSAgUET,
> Hugues FRANC,
Associate director, IMART
> The needs of the seller: raise awareness, help with preparation, after the transfer Director, Réseau Entreprendre (Management institute for
also. Paris (Paris business network) business takeovers and transfers),
(France). Permanent lecturer in Strategy
> The needs of the buyer: information, technical support (accountants,
& Entrepreneurship, Reims
consultants, etc.) and moral support, especially after the contract has been
Management School, Associate
signed. Consultant at Infine Transactions
IN TERMS OF AVENUES TO BE EXpLOREd:
> Rather than talking about private/public synergy, the focus should be on the > Eric FROMENTy,
distribution of roles: public sector for VSEs and private sector for SMEs. Director, Infine Transactions
> The emotional aspect should be taken into account more, especially for staff (France).
(often forgotten and treated as mere spectators) and the buyer (example of
«Mentoring» system – post-takeover support – currently being tested
in 13 countries).
Workshop 3 Matching platforms:
the best is yet to come
Contact is established between sellers and buyers
through companies and organizations known as
«matching platforms». The aim of this Workshop
was to compare similar experiences across several
For Rosalie, there are at least two reasons for this In Finland, Sakari Oikarinen manages Confidentum
«widespread» phenomenon: many owners from the Ltd. In 2002, they had the idea of pooling the data
«Baby Boom» generation are coming to the end from a multitude of provincial platforms in a country
of their careers and many want to take advantage divided into about fifteen regions. Today, Confiden-
of well-deserved retirement from the age of 65. tum brings together 35,000 to 40,000 companies
«The problem,» she continues, «is that a lot of busi- thanks to its network. «And a recent study predicts
ness owners only think about succession the year that 60,000 more sellers will come on to the market
before they plan to leave. By then it’s often too late in the next ten years, the majority of them microbu-
to ensure that everything will run as smoothly as it sinesses,» Sakari Oikarinen said.
In Denmark, peter dalkiaer took over the manage-
Successful initiatives ment of «Match-Online.dk» four years ago, an online
matching service for sellers and buyers. «We made
In France, the CRA (French national association for ourselves known to the public services and today we
company sales and acquisitions) is made up of for- are the benchmark Internet platform in our country,
mer owners who share their experiences in order with 20,000 page views per month and 4,000 uni-
to facilitate business transfers. One of the specific que visitors.»
features of this association is that it offers genuine
training to sellers and buyers. «We have continuous Positive testimonials
contact with 1,400 buyers,» explained Jean pechou,
Vice-president. «And we manage 400 to 500 trans- To illustrate the efficiency of the platforms, the orga-
fers each year. At the CRA, we have all had perso- nizers of the Workshop invited a number of business
«The majority of owners are reluctant to talk about nal experience of a business transfer. We advise our owners who have recently experienced a transfer.
transferring their business, because they see it as a members and allow them to benefit from our expe- For example, Emmanuel Fiorano from France took
step towards preparing their own funeral. But they rience so they can avoid making mistakes.» over the landscape gardening company Sapin Vert.
will have to think about it some day!» With this With a background in agricultural engineering, he
somewhat ironic remark, Toni Brunello, European Representing the German bank KfW, Isabelle Canu has a long career as a company manager under
expert on the subject, CEO of StudioCentroVeneto presented «Nexxt-Change», an online platform his belt. But in 2005, he felt the need to leave the
and moderator of the Workshop, immediately put available in Germany. In Germany, 6,000 compa- management team of the organization he worked
his finger on the crucial role that these platforms nies fall by the wayside each year due to the lack for in order to acquire his own business.
can play. of buyers. This equates to 40,000 jobs lost,» she
deplored. «To counter this phenomenon, this tool «I then met with some people from the CRA who
Rosalie Van Rijk, founder of MKBase, an Ams- was developed in 2006 as a result of a comprehen- convinced me that buying a company wasn’t as sim-
terdam-based platform operating in the Benelux sive agreement that brought together public autho- ple as that,» he explains. «I took a training course
region, did not contradict him. «When we started rities, chambers of commerce, banks and even the that addressed numerous aspects about business
off in 2001, a study revealed that 90,000 people in bar association.» transfers. The transaction, which could have been
our industry were about to sell their business,» she carried out in four days, took four months. But the
explained. «Eight years on and this impressive figure «Nexxt-Change» offers free publication and anony- best thing about the CRA’s support is that every-
hasn’t changed.» mous advertisements for the transfer of businesses. thing was carried out according to the rules and
Every month, 400 to 800 offers are identified, com- without undue haste. This allowed me to limit the
pared to 150 to 450 requests. Since it was opened risks associated with my investment, and become
three years ago, the site has brought about the more aware of all the challenges involved. In fact,
conclusion of 4,700 transactions. the platform made things a lot easier.»
Last January, Aimery de Rochechouart sold Plate- A European platform?
form, his agency that specializes in providing spea-
kers for public events. «I was late discovering the To conclude the Workshop, the two moderators
benefits of an organization like the CRA,» he admit- asked the speakers and the assembly about the
ted. «Because it can save you time. By acting as a possibility of setting up a European platform. But
matchmaker, the CRA carries out an initial screening the majority were sceptical about this idea. «I think
of potential buyers. Only genuinely motivated peo- it would be difficult to pool our strengths, because
ple who have already taken a training course are our various platforms are aimed at different inte-
introduced to us. However, when sellers try to find rests depending on the country,» Isabelle Canu said.
buyers on their own, I can assure they’ll meet a lot «And some depend on the private sector and others
of people who have their heads in the clouds or who on the public sector.» SpEAkERS
simply don’t have enough money…»
Hence this question, in the form of a summary, from
Bruno duvillier, who bought Aimery de Roche- moderator Nicolas pirotte (Strategic Adviser at
> Isabelle CANU, > Sakari OIkARINEN,
chouart’s company, is also very happy with the ser- Sowalfin): «Should we not have local platforms that
KfW Bankengruppe Managing Director of
vices provided by the CRA. «I was supported from meet local needs, but also set up common metho-
(Germany). Confidentum Ltd (Finland).
beginning to end,» he confirmed. «I took training dologies that transcend national borders?»
courses given by lawyers and tax specialists. They
proved very useful indeed.»
> peter dALkIAER, > Jean pECHOU,
Managing Director of Match-Online Vice-president of CRA
LESSONS FROM THIS WORkSHOp
IN TERMS OF OBSERVATIONS:
> There is a wide variety of approaches: the platforms run by the Dutch, Belgians, > Rosalie VAN RIJk,
> Aimery de ROCHECHOUART,
Germans and Danish are restricted to «matching» services, the French provide Manager of MKBase
additional training and coaching, the Finnish bring together a multitude of small Seller of «Plateforme»
(France). (The Netherlands).
> A common vision: all of the participants of the Workshop are convinced of the
need to make the sector more professional and of the importance of having
quality advisors (private partners), confidentiality and anonymity.
> A growing market: in 10 years, there will be a sharp rise in the number of > Bruno dUVILLIER,
advisors, studies, platforms, etc. Moderators and Reporters:
Buyer of «Plateforme»
> Problems associated with very small enterprises (VSEs): these services are not (France).
offered to microbusinesses, it’s still much easier to sell a large company than a > Toni BRUNELLO,
small one. CEO of Studiocentroveneto
> What the entrepreneurs think: the platforms allow you to save time but they
aren’t the only way to find buyers. Networks and the sharing of personal
experience are also very important. > Emmanuel FIORANO,
Buyer of Sapin Vert
IN TERMS OF AVENUES TO BE EXpLOREd:
> For very small enterprises (VSEs): the need to simplify the business transfer > Nicolas pIROTTE,
process, and grants in order to allow access to advisory services.
Strategic Advisor to Sowalfin
> European level: «something» must be done at European level, in terms of (Belgium).
methodologies and best practice, while still maintaining a local or regional
approach. But what about the issues relating to funding, linguistics, etc.?
Closing One of Transeo’s objectives is to create a Euro-
pean network for SME transfers in the near future.
The role of this network is to promote professional
ceremony support services for business transfer processes.
Is there value in creating such a network? And if
so, what should be the objectives, actions, struc-
Rosalie Van Rijk, Manager of MKBase, then reported
back on the outcome of these discussions and
ture and funding method? A sample of some of the included various suggestions put forward by the
questions on the agenda for this second day. work group.
Without question, it appears that participants of
the Transeo conference do not want to just «leave it
at that». All of the feedback that we gathered indi-
cates that they would like a follow-up to this initial
In order to define these future stages, everyone was
invited to take part in one of the three work groups
in which these specific issues were discussed.
What is the European Commission’s view of
Transeo 1? At the end of this two-day seminar, it
was interesting to invite one of the European Com-
mission’s representatives to express their opinion on
the subject. Not least because the participants of
the work groups made a point of highlighting their
expectations of the Commission (particularly in the
area of funding for the future network!).
«I want to congratulate you because the questions
that were addressed, particularly the questions on
raising awareness, were definitely the right ones,»
stated Thomas Jaegers, Policy Officer with the
Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.
Admittedly, in the past, the Commission was a lot
more concerned with the subject of the legal frame-
work and there has been improvement in a lot of
areas, «except in the area of taxation where there is
still quite a bit yet to be done».
According to Thomas Jaegers, one of the outcomes
of the Transeo conference was that needs go beyond
electronic databases. «I think it’s an excellent idea to
develop a network before implementing electronic
tools. The subject of business transfers involves
more than just electronic databases and you under-
stood that perfectly. It’s similar to the work carried
out by the Commission. I wish you lots of success
with your future initiatives.»
A final word from the organizers!
Jean-Marie Catabelle, for CRA, and Rosalie Van Rijk,
The need to develop a specific strategy for very small enterprises (VSEs) was a recur- for MKBase, thanked Sowaccess, the driving force
ring theme throughout the two days of the Transeo conference. These microbusinesses behind organizing this highly professional confer-
were the subject of the REINO project that was carried out in 2007 and 2008 (Renewal ence, they also mentioned the large number of par-
and Innovation to Business Transfers of Micro Companies). Launched by Finland, five ticipants, especially considering the subject wasn’t
other countries joined in this initiative: Denmark, Greece, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary. of much interest to many people a few years ago.
There was a budget of €1.96 million, 70% of which was provided by the Commission.
Finally Vincent Bovy, Director of the Agence de
«We worked on the assumption that transfer operations can be profitable, even within Stimulation Economique (Economic stimulation
microbusinesses,» explained Ninetta Chaniotou, who monitored the project for the agency) (Belgium), one of the organizers of the
Greek partners. Built around a pool of experts and the sharing of tools, REINO brought Transeo conference, highlighted the three main out-
specific European characteristics to light, mainly in relation to the mindset of business comes of the previous two days:
owners. «In Europe, the dominant emotion when it comes to selling is that of guilt,
which is not at all the case in the United States, where selling is part of the «normal» life > We have succeeded in taking the issue of
of every entrepreneur.» business transfers out of the ghetto where it
had been confined up to now.
REINO also identified the fact that successors could also avail of help and advice. «We
must help them keep the business running, but also to expand it,» emphasized Ninetta > Above all, business transfers are viewed
Chaniotou, who explained the important differences between the business practices of from an entrepreneurial perspective.
the countries that took part in the REINO project. «In Greece, for example, the Cham-
bers of Commerce have very little contact with entrepreneurs. On the other hand, estate > This perspective should allow our SMEs to
agents have a lot of contact with them. The people trust them. In other countries, this become more open and more flexible.
would be completely different. It’s important to know this».
Lessons learned For SOWACCESS and its partners ASE, MkBase in
the Netherlands and CRA in France, the objective
From the perspective of private players, there
is clear value in implementing the network
- Establish a list of all of the existing plat-
forms in Europe and set up Internet links.
and conclusions in organizing Transeo was twofold:
> To organize the first real international conference
quickly, which should be based more on networ-
king rather than on structure or governance.
«Let’s continue to meet up, start with a few
- A flexible structure, without excessive levels
on the subject of the transfer of SMEs, aimed specific projects and the structure will then of formality.
at all European professionals and researchers follow,» summarised the private players, already - A type of professional federation.
specializing in this sector. very satisfied with the quality of the network In terms of funding:
created at the end of these two days in Spa. - Some funding could come from the Euro-
> To confirm among European transfer profes- pean Union (where business transfers are
sionals the relevance of setting up a European From the perspective of public players, «orga- viewed as a very important issue).
Transfer Network. nizational» concerns were more apparent here - The ideal: combined funding from both the
(mainly the funding of the future network) but private and public sphere.
there was still enthusiasm about adopting a - Subscriptions, but not in the case of a «slee-
European approach. «Let’s define stages, for the ping network».
short term, medium term and long term,» sug-
gested one of the participants. 5. Next steps
- Organize Transeo 2.
1. Needs identified and how these could be - Establish an efficient Management Commit-
met by the implementation of a European tee that will represent the different coun-
network tries and sensitivities.
- Bring together best practice. - Quickly draw up a written report on the out-
- Need for segmentation, need to take very come of these past two days.
small enterprises (VSE) into account in par- - Send this report to the European Commis-
- Shared forum for university research. - With the report, send a request aimed at
- Quality standards for consultants (more establishing «who will contribute to what».
«filtering»). - Make sure that the network is updated
- Sharing of information (example: broad regularly (no obsolete names).
overview of taxation and legal practices in - Obtain everyone’s email addresses.
various European countries).
2. Objectives of the future network Organizers intend to pursue their actions in
- Lobbying to the European Commission. order to facilitate business transfer in their res-
The objective was largely achieved. The conference - Raising awareness amongst sellers and pective business areas. To this end sharing and
was as successful as we hoped, with more than buyers, and also within the media. disseminating good practices among public
200 participants from a number of different coun- - Making the sector more professional. and private professionals active in the business
tries. - Stimulating the economy (increase number transfer sector is essential. This is a determi-
of transactions). ning factor to further strengthen and help pro-
In addition, there is a clear desire apparent among - Bringing university researchers together, to fessionalize the sector. good practices can only
the European transfer professionals who attended go beyond the local level. be disseminated through contacts at the regio-
the conference to continue these efforts to create - Providing support services to less-advanced nal and national levels, and even more so at the
a network and to follow up this initiative. More countries in terms of business transfers. international level.
than 95% of the participants say they are willing to
attend a second conference of this type and 50% of 3. possible actions The perpetuation of this kind of initiative is
them are considering becoming founder members - Plan Transeo 2. here at stake, and this through the creation
of a future European network. - Establish a quality certification (but who of a European network bringing professionals
will grant this certification?). together, that is if the project is able to federate
- INVIGORATE the network using tools such a maximum of professional representatives of
as chat rooms and Internet forums for dis- business transfer in Europe.
cussing different issues.
- Make certain existing tools available to eve-
ryone (example of the self-assessment tool
developed by Sowaccess).
19 May 20 May
09.00 Welcome 08.15 > 09.30 Working breakfast
Introduction 09.30 > 10.45 Lessons learnt from the workshops and comments
“Business transfer in Europe: a global issue, a local approach”
10.00 > 12.00
Plenary Session Coffee break
10.45 > 11.00
“Business transfer issue: is it all about awareness?”
11.00 > 12.00 Working groups on the setting up of the European SME Transfer Network
12.00 > 13.15 European Cafe - Roundtable discussion
13.15 > 14.15 Lunch Conclusions & Closing Ceremony
12.00 > 13.00 European Business Transfer network project
(Presentation, debate, next steps)
14.15 > 15.30 “The role of support services in the business transfer process”
13.00 > 14.00 Lunch
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3
15.30 > 17.30 “Strategies for “Towards a synergy between “The matching
heightening the private and public organizations, platforms: the best
seller’s awareness” to optimize and professionalize the is yet to come”
support services provided to sellers
19.30 Social Event
List of participants
Alié Béatrice UCM Belgium delflys Willy Meusinvest Belgium
André Cyril Repreneur France delloye Charles AletheA Belgium
Andrieux Jean-Louis Cotarget Belgium dembour Madeleine Kalamos Belgium
Antoine pierre-Emmanuel Fidecem France demenint Frits A. Adtractum B.V. The Netherlands
Antonacchio Catherine Cabinet d’avocats Ramquet-Pricken Belgium depelssemaker Marie dialectiq Belgium
Arnould Raymond Reforme Belgium deplanque Christophe PME Consult Belgium
Arnould Sophie HEC Belgium deroover Alain Wallonie développement Belgium
Barbot Marie-Christine Université du Main, UFR Droit France deschamps Marc Exego Belgium
Barredy Céline Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV France deschamps Bérangère Institut d’Administration des Entreprises de Grenoble (IAE) France
Barvaux patrick Giconsult Belgium deville philippe SRIW Belgium
Beele Emmanuel Actoria Conseil Belgium d’Hulstere delphine Febecoop agence conseil Wallonie asbl Belgium
Benoît Bouchard Cécile Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat de la Moselle France di Bartolomeo Jean-pierre Sowaccess Belgium
Bessemans yves CEDIP Management Belgium dohogne Laura Cabinet du Ministre Marcourt Belgium
Bobbe Ronald Orangestone Corporate Finance BV The Netherlands donem damien Loyens & Loeff Advocaten Belgium
Bohez philippe Alter finances Belgium dorte Heegard Johansen Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority Denmark
Bonnin Claude Fidecem France dramard Carole AIG VIE ALICO France
Boogmans Dirk Belgium dufour Josette Conférence régionale des élus de la Chaudière-Appalaches Canada
Boonen Jean-François SIAGI France duh Mojca Faculty of Economics and Business Slovenia
Boussaguet Sonia Reims Management School France dumont Axel Moore Stephens RSP Belgium
Bovy Vincent Agence de Stimulation Economique Belgium dumont Vincent Groupe Sambrinvest Belgium
Bronner Françoise Aux Dames du Faubourg France dumortier Vincent ECI Services Belgium
Brulé gaspard BMS Avocats France dussart Olivier UCM Belgium
Brunello Toni Studiocentroveneto Italy duvillier Bruno Plateforme France
Bruyninckx Hugo I.M.A.&Partners bvba Belgium Elarbi Ridha Ouverture Internationale France
Cadieux Louise Université du Québec Trois Rivières Canada Engels Magali Synapsis Belgium
Canis Lionel Groupe CESACQ France Engels Michel C+ Investments Belgium
Canù Isabelle KFW Bankengrüppe Germany Fabrice Lobet Ernst & Young Belgium
Carré Nathalie Assemblée Française des Chambres de Commerce et France Feldbusch Jean-paul Namur Invest Belgium
Fiorano Emmanuel PDG Sapinvert France
Catabelle Jean-Marie Cédants et Repreneurs d’Affaires France
Foidart Marc Cide-Socran Belgium
Catrice Amaury France
Fonzé Alain Propage-s asbl Belgium
Cevirgen Sevkan Kamer van Koophandel Nederland The Netherlands
Franc Hugues Réseau Entreprendre Paris France
Chaniotou Ninetta Kainuun Etu OY Finland
Fromenty Eric Infine Transactions France
Clement Roger Moore Stephens United Kingdom
gabay Bernard AFFIX Corporate Finance sprl Belgium
Collinet Stéphanie Sowalfin Belgium
gaspar Antonio SPGM - Sociedade de Investimentos, SA Portugal
Coquard pierre Industria France
gavroy Tanguy CBC Belgium
Crahay Stéphanie Meusinvest Belgium
gheza daniel Field / Eurefi Luxembourg
Curavic Marko European Commission Croatia
giroux pierre Desjardins Canada
dalkiaer peter Match-Online.dk Denmark
gourmet Jean-pol Hermes, Ressources et Synergies Belgium
de Rochechouart Aimery Plateforme France
gustin pierre ING Belgium
de Waha pierre Nivelinvest Belgium
guyot Jean-Luc IWEPS Belgium
degive philippe SRIW Belgium
Halbardier daniel Dexia Banque Belgium
delbrouck Brigitte UCM Belgium
Hall Annika Jönköping International Business School Sweden
delcourt Christian Conseiller Ecolo Belgium
38 Hamende Valérie Sowalfin Belgium 39
Hatert Johan CBC Belgium Matser Ilse Centrum van het Familiebedrijf The Netherlands
Herrera Antonia PME CONSULT Belgium Mayer Hugues-Arnaud MEDEF France
Herve Luc scrpl L.Herve Belgium Mercier Sandrine OCE - UCM Liège Belgium
Hoche yannick APCE France Meurs Freddy Meusinvest Belgium
Houba Edith HEC Belgium Michel philippe Fortis Banque Belgium
Houben Thierry Management Science Consulting Belgium Mirkovic Rosana Association of Chartered Certified Accountants United Kingdom
Hublet Etienne AFFIX Corporate Finance sprl Belgium Monami dominique Mentally Fit Institute Belgium
Jaegers Thomas European Commission Belgium Murphy Jane Lydian Belgium
Jan Jaap dijkman Enterprise Ireland The Netherlands Nagelhout Michel Consento Corporate Finance BV The Netherlands
Jarosinski delphine Agence de Stimulation Economique Belgium Neuprez Florence Cible Belgium
Jauhernik Ernst j.i.m. Austria Nothnagel Ilja Association of German Chambers of Industry Germany
Jehin Bernard Sowalfin Belgium and Commerce (DIHK e.V.)
Jeurissen geert Coforce Belgium Oberling Jérôme Actoria Conseil France
Jochem van der Veen Leeman Verheijden Huntjens Advocaten The Netherlands Oikarinen Sakari Confidentum Ltd Finland
Jordan daniel H. AWEX - Office for Foreign Investors Belgium pansaers Xavier Actoria Conseil Belgium
Joslet Valérie Sowalfin Belgium paquet Jean BCF Paquet Belgium
Juha Tall Finland paulis Nadia Cible Belgium
kegels Rita MK Base The Netherlands pechou Jean CRA France
kieken Thierry Agence de Stimulation Economique Belgium pereira Roger Cabinet du Ministre Michel Daerden Belgium
kilesse André BDO Atrio Réviseurs d’entreprises Belgium pertti Linkola Ministry of Employment and the Economy Finland
klinkenberg Nathalie WFG OSTBELGIEN VoG Belgium peter Birlouet Delta Mas Belgium
koener Laurent Chambre de commerce du Luxembourg Luxembourg peters Martijn The Netherlands
krings Henry Altheas sprl Belgium philippe Rooeleer Fibiz Partners Belgium
kronenbitter Iris Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-Württemberg Germany piek Sandra Consento Corporate Finance BV The Netherlands
krzewinski Christophe Awex Belgium pirotte Nicolas Sowalfin Belgium
kummer Christopher The Institute of Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA) Suisse pirotte Isabelle EMPORES Belgium
kyelem Clarisse Maison de l’entreprise du Burkina Faso Burkina Faso pivetta Frederic McKinsey & COmpany Belgium
Lambrecht Johan EHSAL K.U. Bruxelles Germany prignon Anne Groupe Sambrinvest Belgium
Lazard philippe KPMG Advisory Belgium pruvost Benoît Chambre Régionale de Commerce et France
Le Strat Mary Aux Dames du Faubourg France d’Industrie Nord Pas de Calais
Lebèque Julie Sowaccess Belgium Querinjean Christophe Sowalfin Belgium
Lejaer Christiane Belgium Ramakers Clarisse UCM Belgium
Lerat Anne-Marie SIAGI France Raman Chris Ventures4Growth Belgium
Lernoux Frédéric Cefip asbl Belgium Rasqué Tom Luxembourg Banker’s Association Luxembourg
Lescrenier Benoît CCILB Belgium Remit Jacqueline PME-KMO Belgium
Lesne Véronique Agence de Stimulation Economique Belgium Rizzo Sylvain Copilot Belgium
Loverius Frédéric Copilot Belgium Roy Marcel AECM Belgium
Marbehant Alain ING Belgium Rutten Benoît Cible Belgium
Marcelle Jean-pierre Awex Belgium Sancristoval Cristina High Council of Spanish Chambers of Commerce Espagne
Marcourt Bernadette Spi+ Belgium Schets Luc Fibiz Partners BVBA Belgium
Marcourt Jean-Claude Walloon Minister of Economy, Employment, Foreign Trade Belgium Servais gaëtan Meusinvest Belgium
and Heritage Siemes Hubert Awex Belgium
Marcq Fabian Meusinvest Belgium Smal geneviève Si-Trouille Belgium
Marly Nathalie Marly Production Belgium Sorbet Maria Camara Navarra Spain 41
Steur Etienne MK Base The Netherlands
Stucki Christian Actoria Conseil Switzerland
Tassiaux Nicole Gré Liège Belgium
Teepen Robert Lynxbedrijvenmakelaars The Netherlands
Toussaint Frank Intraco Consulting Belgium
Trevisan Mario Italy
Trinon Thierry Trinon et Associés Belgium
Upfold Arndt Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-Württemberg Germany
Vaesen Henri Moore Stephens RSP Belgium
Van de kimmenade De Familiebedrijven Adviesgroep The Netherlands
van der Bijl Fabienne MK Base The Netherlands
van der Ven patrick MKB Nederland The Netherlands
van Rijk Rosalie MK Base The Netherlands
Van Teeffelen Lex HogeSchool Utrecht The Netherlands
Vandermeersch Eric Actoria Belgium Belgium
Vanderveken Vincent Comase Belgium
Vandevenne Julien Belgium
Vangysegem Virginie Sowalfin Belgium
Vanparys Claude Tradecorp sprl Belgium
Vereecke Olivier Partners PME Belgium
Von Buxhoeveden Belgium
Vryens Jean-François Indufin Belgium
Wattelier Frank Ouverture Internationale France
Weerts Laurent Deloitte Belgium
Westerlaken Martijn MK Base The Netherlands
Willockx Olivier BECI Belgium
Winnen Eric dialectiq Belgium
Withnack Bryan Synapsis Belgium
Wuidard Jean-Luc Cabinet d’avocats Ramquet-Pricken Belgium
Zemann Maarten MKB Nederland The Netherlands
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