Transaction expertise for family businesses
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.
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.
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.