Succession, for entrepreneurs and liberal professions too

Bank J.Van Breda & C° joins the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions & Buy-outs as a Prime Foundation Partner

One in three clients of Bank J.Van Breda & C° is heading towards the end of their career. For the bank which serves ‘entrepreneurs and liberal professions only’, offering a personal and proactive advisory service on the delicate succession process is therefore high on the agenda. ‘As a Prime Foundation Partner within the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions & Buy-outs, we want to become more in tune with the M&A market, so that we can incorporate these insights into the advice we provide to clients,’ says Peter Devlies, member of the Management Committee. Together with our dean Marion Debruyne, he explains the strategic value of this partnership. 

Why is Bank Van Breda entering into this acquisition-focused partnership with Vlerick?

Peter Devlies: ‘As you know, we are a niche bank. We only serve family entrepreneurs and liberal professions. Offering a personal and proactive advisory service is central to our approach, which is why we also position ourselves as asset advisors: professional activity is the engine driving the build-up of private wealth. When we find that one in three of our clients is heading towards the end of their career and if we want to fulfil our promise to them, this acquisition-focused partnership is a logical decision.
What’s more, Vlerick is a well-renowned business school which allows us to step outside our niche for a while and gain insights, establish contacts and enjoy visibility. This helps us become more in tune with the M&A market and allows us to draw on this knowledge when advising clients.’

Peter Devlies: ‘This acquisition-focused partnership is a logical decision for us.’

Marion Debruyne: ‘It’s thanks to partnerships like these that we are able to create a breeding ground of inspiration and interaction. The Prime Foundation Partnership with Bank Van Breda fits in perfectly with two of Vlerick’s pillars. On the one hand, the industrial pillar of financial services management: as a player in the banking industry, we are happy to welcome you into our Centre for Financial Services. And then there is our strategic pillar of entrepreneurship: in terms of your specific interest in acquisitions of family businesses, you will certainly find a good sparring partner in the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions & Buy-outs in our other partners, such as BDO and Gimv. I strongly believe in cross-fertilisation within such a Centre, not only between companies, but also with our professors. In this Centre, for instance, we bring together the expertise of Mathieu Luypaert (M&A), Miguel Meuleman (Buy-ins/Buy-outs) and Sophie Manigart (Private Equity & Venture Capital).’

Marion Debruyne: ‘This partnership fits in perfectly with two of our pillars: financial services management and entrepreneurship.” 

What do you expect from this partnership?

Peter Devlies: ‘Within the Centre, we want to test our approach against insights from research and experiences of other partners. Clients who have to organise the succession of their company or business go through a delicate and often emotional process. For them, we want to be the conversation partner who, besides being able to offer them in-depth expertise, can also maintain the overview of the private and professional context. That’s why we set up Van Breda Advisory at the end of 2015. This department is made up of five experts, spread across the whole country, who provide advisory services to clients on tax law, family succession or handing over the reins of the family business. They offer independent advice, separate from products or transactions. Where necessary, they introduce the client to the right external advisor, such as an accountant or acquisition broker.
But the Vlerick events, too, have already paid off. At the Buy Your Own conference last February, the segment of people in their mid-forties who after a successful corporate career would also like to try their hand at being an entrepreneur was highlighted. This is a segment on the demand side which could be significant to us. Definitely one to follow up.’

Want to know more about research within this partnership? Read the joint interview with Wannes Gheysen and Professor Mathieu Luypaert.


On 31 March, Bank J.Van Breda & C° and Vlerick signed a Prime Foundation Partnership contract for three years. Pictured l.t.r. Peter Devlies (member of the Management Committee of Bank J.Van Breda & C°), Marion Debruyne (Dean Vlerick), Dirk Wouters (President of the Management Committee of Bank J.Van Breda & C°), Mathieu Luypaert (Associate Professor at the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions and Buy-outs) and Wannes Gheysen (succession and acquisition expert Bank J.Van Breda & C°).


Signing of the contract by Peter Devlies, Marion Debruyne and Dirk Wouters.