• Opportunity to touch base with M&A centre partners

Touch base met partners M&A centre

11 June 2019

In early May, Professor Mathieu Luypaert presented the results of the M&A Monitor. The large audience, of course, included our three Prime Foundation Partners, who are active in the Centre for Mergers, Acquisitions & Buy-outs. A perfect opportunity to touch base about their partnership.

BDO – “Always exploring”

“The large turnout for this sixth edition of the M&A Monitor demonstrates that it has become a reference work in the M&A community,” says Professor Mathieu Luypaert. Veerle Catry, Partner at BDO Belgium, agrees: “Potential buyers and sellers who have already completed exploratory rounds will sometimes refer to the M&A Monitor. Thanks to our partnership, we have built up both visibility and credibility within the M&A community. For many years, the Entrepreneurial Buy-Out Academy has been an essential event for managers who want to buy their own business. Since last year, we also have the Exit Academy, which focuses more on owners who want to organise a successful transfer of their company. For BDO, the latter certainly hit the mark as it has given us two great assignments.”

On renewal of the partnership earlier this year, BDO expressly asked Vlerick to include the Walloon M&A market. Veerle: “This year, the Monitor was also presented in Liège, in collaboration with HEC Liège and SowAccess. This is typical of the entrepreneurial spirit of the M&A Centre, which is always exploring, both for research and for events.”

“The M&A Centre has an entrepreneurial spirit” 

Veerle Catry, Partner, BDO Belgium


BANK J.VAN BREDA – “M&A Monitor as reality check”

Bank J.Van Breda also feels that thanks to its corporate partnership with Vlerick, it has gained expertise, respect, and greater confidence from its clients. “As a financial partner, we only give advice and help our clients to find the right partners to support their acquisition,” explains Wannes Gheysen, Sector Manager for Entrepreneurs and Advisory Manager. “Many of our clients are SMEs and family businesses that want to transfer their businesses. The Exit Academy fits in perfectly with this. In our advice on acquisitions, we include the M&A Monitor, because we have noticed that some clients expect unrealistic selling prices for their companies. In that case, the insights from the M&A Monitor serve as a reality check.”

Bank J.Van Breda has also seen an increase in acquisitions in the liberal professions. “Dentists and chemists are being approached by investment groups more regularly”, explains Wannes. “Knowing that healthcare is one of Vlerick’s core sectors, we will be sitting around the table soon with Professor Walter Van Dyck, Director of the Vlerick Healthcare Management Centre. It is great that, within our entrepreneurial partnership, we can make such a leap into healthcare, another area in which we are both strategically involved.”

“Dentists and chemists are being approached by investment groups more regularly,” 

Wannes Gheysen, M&A Expert, Bank J.Van Breda


NAUTADUTILH – “Interaction with professors and the other partners”

“For us, the interaction with professors and the other corporate partners is extremely enriching. It gives us a broader view of the other aspects of M&A,” says Maxime Colle, Partner at the law firm NautaDutilh and active within the corporate M&A practice with a focus on Technology and Private Equity. “We are trusted advisors to our clients in that our focus is on offering the best solutions for them. These may not always be the best solutions from a purely legal point of view. We also need to look at solutions from a business perspective and speak our clients’ language as entrepreneurs or managers.”

NautaDutilh’s lawyers occasionally deliver guest lectures to Vlerick students and act as jury members for the Exit Academy or the Entrepreneurial Buy-Out Academy. “The time and energy that you invest in that, will come back to you many times over,” says Maxime. “The enthusiastic participants and inspiring environment are like a breath of fresh air. We also like to recruit people who have studied at Vlerick after completing their law degrees because of the ‘entrepreneurial immersion’ experience during their Vlerick programme.”

“Anyone who has studied law and then gone on to complete a Vlerick programme will have had an invaluable ‘entrepreneurial immersion’” 

Maxime Colle, Partner, NautaDutilh


VLERICK – “Faster and greater impact”

Professor Mathieu Luypaert also looks back and to the future with satisfaction: “When we launched this Centre in 2013, I would never have dreamt that we would be where we are today. The partners’ input within the M&A Centre is invaluable for Vlerick as an academic business school: they offer practical feedback from their area of expertise, and we can have faster and greater impact with our research. I sincerely hope that the Centre can continue to build on this momentum.”

“I hope that the M&A Centre can continue to build on this momentum”

M&A Monitor 2019: Turning point?

With the M&A Monitor, we want to look at the year ahead and identify the trends in the M&A market. In the 2019 edition, the following two points have emerged.

1. Transactions based on technology and talent: If we look at why takeovers take place, we see that the intangible is gaining in importance. The acquisition of technology and talent are becoming more important drivers than the more traditional motives, such as geographical spread or increase in scale

2. The M&A market is stabilising: The small drop in EBITDA  multiples and an expected slight decline in the number of acquisitions indicate that the M&A market is calming down after five years of unbridled growth. Will this be a turning point? All will be revealed in the 2020 edition.

Download the M&A monitor here