Bank J.Van Breda & C° shares and expands succession expertise

As a Prime Foundation Partner, Bank J.Van Breda & C° is a member of the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions & Buy-outs for the next three years. What extras does this membership entail for the bank and its clients who are confronted with the succession of their company in the coming years? 

Bank Van Breda serves entrepreneurs and liberal professions only. What are the biggest challenges for these segments when confronted with the succession of their company? ‘The entrepreneurs among our clientele are primarily SMEs,’ Wannes Gheysen, succession and acquisition expert at Bank Van Breda, says. ‘The manager is often the pivotal figure in terms of know-how and day-to-day management. For us, the biggest challenge is to make this manager aware that, if he wants to ensure that his company is transferable, he had better evolve towards a structure in which his daily responsibilities are delegated more. This is possible by, say, calling on additional and external employees more. Other factors which can hinder the transfer of such a company are, for example, overvalued real estate or an excessive cash position. It is then up to us to provide proactive advice on this by, for instance, splitting up the real estate or taking it out of the company in a tax-efficient manner. This way, we can ensure that a company does become transferable in a few years’ time.
The situation isn’t quite the same for liberal professions. One-man practices are actually not transferable. But it’s a different story when five colleagues start working together in a partnership. For instance, dental practices with several dentists are taken over by investors.’

Wannes Gheysen: ‘A manager who wants to transfer his company in time has to evolve towards a structure in which he delegates more.’

Expert and complementary

Bank Van Breda joining the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions & Buy-outs is a boost for Vlerick: the bank offers valuable expertise and strongly complements the other partners within the Centre. Professor Mathieu Luypaert: ‘Mergers and acquisitions are, by definition, transactions where a great many domains meet: both from the advisory and implementation side. Therefore, our Centre really benefits from reflecting the complex M&A scene as much as possible. So we are very pleased to be able to welcome a “real” bank into our Centre.’
‘Having other partners in the Centre such as BDO and Gimv will indeed be helpful in broadening our “M&A view”, although we consciously choose to provide independent transfer advice to our clients,’ Wannes Gheysen stresses. ‘Once we are at the transaction stage, we let the market run its course entirely.’

Mathieu Luypaert: ‘Our Centre really benefits from reflecting the complex M&A scene as much as possible.’

Acquire and spread knowledge

The output of the Centre is twofold: to acquire greater knowledge and insight about mergers, acquisitions, succession and transfer, and to spread this knowledge as much as possible. ‘As far as research is concerned, we organise an M&A Monitor annually,’ says Mathieu Luypaert. ‘During this event, we ask M&A professionals about trends in their field and try to gain an insight into the volume of transactions in Belgium. We set up the Monitor 2016 at the end of April, with results expected to be available by the end of June. And then there is the “traditional” scientific research, where we work out cases together, for instance, which we use as practical examples during lectures. We share our research findings and insights during the annual Entrepreneurial Buy-Out Academy or the Buy Your Own Company conference, which we organised for the fourth consecutive year in February. Attendees of these events are people who intend to become entrepreneurs in the short term, so each and every one of them are interesting prospects for Bank Van Breda. This autumn, we are also planning a new event, the transfer of family businesses.’

Peter Devlies and dean Marion Debruyne share their views on the strategic importance of this partnership to both parties in this joint interview.