3 questions to smart minds
Photo: Matthias Künzel

Transaction expertise for family businesses

For this 3 questions to Matthias Künzel

8P Part­ner­ship mbB
Photo: Matthias Künzel
11. April 2018

Corpo­rate tran­sac­tions and finan­cing and pres­ents a number of chal­lenges for many family busi­nesses as a result of market and regu­la­tory chan­ges. Local condi­ti­ons in parti­cu­lar regu­larly come into play here.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Matthias Künzel, Part­ner at 8P Part­ner­schaft mbB

1. How is it that you regu­larly realize large, even inter­na­tio­nal tran­sac­tions, even though you are not loca­ted in any metropolis?

Siegen is not a metro­po­lis like Munich or Berlin, but accor­ding to a study by the Berli­ner Morgen­post it is the “gree­nest city” in Germany. In the age of digi­tal data rooms and “manage­ment presen­ta­ti­ons” via Skype, the actual office loca­tion is beco­ming less and less important for serving foreign clients. What ulti­m­ately counts is the speed, quality and expe­ri­ence of the tran­sac­tion team. This is also the reason why one or the other well-known Ameri­can private equity client as well as some French-spea­king family-owned compa­nies have turned their backs on their usual Big4 team and now place their tran­sac­tions in the range between EUR 10 million and EUR 200 million with us.

Another reason is our intui­tion for medium-sized busi­nesses as well as the seam­less over­all support of the tran­sac­tion at a high level — wher­eby the part­ner or senior mana­ger assists in the assess­ment of the first offer and the nego­tia­tion of the final purchase price as well as, for exam­ple, respon­si­bly leads the due dili­gence. Diffe­rent people are often respon­si­ble for this at the Big4 and infor­ma­tion gets lost between the diffe­rent departments.

We ulti­m­ately owe our entry into the inter­na­tio­nal tran­sac­tion busi­ness to our foreign network colle­agues at RSM, who repea­tedly place their trust in us and refer their clients to a team in an insi­gni­fi­cant German town called Siegen (English trans­la­tion: “Winning”). Of course, we will serve these clients in the same way as they are used to from our colle­agues in the USA or France. For these purpo­ses, we have built up a pure tran­sac­tion team, carry out second­ments in the USA or France and parti­ci­pate in inter­na­tio­nal trai­ning. It should also be noted that the French PDG of a family busi­ness prefers to speak French.

2. How does your deal flow come about?

Again, the geogra­phi­cal loca­tion of 8P in the heart of South West­pha­lia is of great importance: Germany’s No. 3 indus­trial region — the share of employees in the manu­fac­tu­ring sector in South West­pha­lia is 47.3% — only in Villin­gen-Schwen­nin­gen (52%) and Heiden­heim-Aalen (50%) are the shares higher. As in many other networks, the distri­bu­tion of so-called “inbound manda­tes” in the tradi­tio­nal areas of audi­ting and taxa­tion at RSM is also based on geogra­phi­cal proxi­mity. This has led in parti­cu­lar to a large number of inter­na­tio­nal audit clients, with whom close ties have been estab­lished over the years, so that we are natu­rally also the first point of cont­act when it comes to tran­sac­tion advice.

Much more important for the deal flow, howe­ver, is 8P’s market-leading posi­tion in South West­pha­lia. Each of our 130 employees in the areas of tax, audi­ting and legal advice is prima­rily focu­sed on the South West­pha­lian, medium-sized entre­pre­neur, who is not infre­quently the world market leader in his or her disci­pline. The menta­lity of these entre­pre­neurs is simi­lar to that in Swabia. Although they deli­ver all over the world, they prefer to work with people from the region who share the same values. After PWC closed its Siegen office last year, word is spre­a­ding outside our exis­ting client base and among regio­nal network part­ners that we are now the only highly specia­li­zed tran­sac­tion team in the entire region.

3. You perso­nally focus on the sell side. How did this come about and what is important here? Who are their part­ners and clients?

You can imagine that espe­ci­ally the topic of sales is very private and highly emotio­nal for every entre­pre­neur. If succes­sion within the family is not possi­ble and the sale of the company, which in some cases is seve­ral hundred years old, is pending, you want to have someone trust­wor­thy at your side who under­stands your goals and moti­ves. At this point, it often happened in the past that the entrepreneur’s long-stan­ding perso­nal accoun­tant and tax advi­sor, i.e. prima­rily colle­agues of mine, took me on board as a specia­list in order to then profes­sio­nally accom­pany the entire sales process until the money was in the account. In this situa­tion, you natu­rally enjoy a high level of trust. Nevert­hel­ess, you always have to work hard to earn the respect and reco­gni­tion of the entre­pre­neur through compe­tence, dili­gence and solu­ti­ons outside the text­book. If the buyer is not alre­ady “brought along” by the entre­pre­neur, we fall back on long-stan­ding, well-known part­ners from well-known, middle-class M & A houses. We have a simi­lar rela­ti­onship with a number of lawy­ers who have proven them­sel­ves in the mid-market but are inter­na­tio­nally active, and with whom we have main­tai­ned a long-term coope­ra­tion. I think you will forgive me that it is not our philo­so­phy to mention names of clients or part­ners at this point.

Subscribe newsletter

Here you can read about the latest transactions, IPOs, private equity deals and venture capital investments, who has raised a new fund, how Buy & Build activities are going.

Get in touch

Contact us!
fyb [at]