There are many advantages to structuring a company succession together with an equity investor. For example, you can arrange the financing and transfer modalities very flexibly – provided you have selected the right financial investor. What matters.
Are you seeking new capital to help you with your growth plans before beginning to look for a successor? Would you like to see how a minority shareholding works out before considering further options? Are you looking for an interim solution until your own successor is ready to take the helm? We can help you realize your plans. VR Equitypartner is one of the few established equity investors for medium-sized companies that offers not just majority and minority investments but also mezzanine financing solutions.
As an entrepreneur yourself, do you appreciate it when your successor among the shareholders has an entrepreneurial mindset? At VR Equitypartner, we do not get involved in your day-to-day business but we do bring our considerable experience of successful successions and our network of contacts to the table. We see ourselves as strategic partners for our portfolio companies.
Should you wish, you can draw on the experience of our operational experts and extensive network of specialists to help realize your growth initiatives more swiftly and successfully.
As a member of the cooperative financial services network, we believe in the strength of cooperation and partnership. Enabling your company to develop successfully – not least for the sake of your employees – is very important to us. Not just during but also after our investment. We are committed to these principles.
Many equity investors only invest in companies of a certain size, such as larger medium-sized companies, or in a particular sector, e.g. technology companies. Some also confine their investments to specific situations – for example, successions. What is more, the majority of financial investors also only agree to majority shareholdings. However, there are certain equity investors who cater to medium-sized companies and who also consider minority interests and mezzanine financing.
Even the best growth plans can fast become The easiest way to decide who you want to hold detailed talks with would be to take the indicative offer price of the interested parties. However, caution is required here. The offer price rarely remains at the level proposed at this early stage. There are equity investors who, as soon as they have made it to the short list, will find all manner of reasons to make significant downward adjustments to the price during the due diligence process. Here, it is important to be aware of the investor’s reputation and track record.
Even the best growth plans can fast become obsolete in times of political uncertainty or technological disruption. This makes it all the more important to have a financial investor at your side who can act swiftly and who has the financial means to react appropriately if circumstances change. Pay attention to how your equity investor has reacted to planning delays in the past. Did they turn down an investment opportunity simply because they had to consider the fixed term of a fund? Or perhaps they did not have access to a the right network to guarantee the required acquisition financing? Did the investor require an exit even though the timing was not right? All of the above indicate a lack of flexibility at times when you need it most.
For a long time, an equity investor’s industry expertise – above all apparent in the context of their past investments – was one of the key selection criteria for a seller. As valuable as industry and market know-how continue to be, it is also clear – especially in times of digital transformation – how valuable cross-sector strategic know-how and experience are when creating a well-structured development strategy for your company. A financial investor with a diverse portfolio can, for example, provide new inspiration for business models or have a better idea of what to consider when modernizing IT systems. The shortage of skilled workers is another issue that is currently hindering many companies’ growth plans. An equity investor who can help here can be invaluable.
When implementing growth plans, questions can arise relating to operational matters outside the remit of day-to-day business. You may want to discuss and resolve such matters internally, among a small group of peers. It may also make sense to implement the necessary changes immediately. At times like this, an equity investor with an experienced team of operating partners can provide swift support. However, it is essential that this operating partner team has the necessary entrepreneurial know-how and experience to really be able to help. Otherwise, there is no real benefit to you. Clarify early on the extent to which you can influence decisions regarding the involvement of such operating partners. This will ensure that you retain entrepreneurial control of day-to-day operations.
Given that the demands made of and by companies are becoming increasingly diverse, even very large equity investors cannot provide all the necessary know-how in-house. So a financial investor’s network of contacts is, actually, very important. You can find out how reliable the network is by looking at the track record of previous investments. Here, size really does matter: Well-established equity investors with numerous investments are in a better position to prove that they can provide the right advisor, partner or manager if a new approach is needed or the unexpected occurs.
Are you looking for an equity investor who will also take over the running of the day-to-day business? There are times, especially in crisis situations, when this approach can be very helpful. However, if you want to sell a shareholding but also continue as managing director, or if an existing manager should replace you (for example, as part of a management buyout), then this kind of far-reaching influence can be unhelpful.
As such, make sure you know in advance what you want from your financial investor and how they define themselves. Can they or should they bring an external manager into your company (management buy in)? Many equity investors focus on just providing strategic support, usually in the form a supervisory board mandate. This gives the company the freedom to continue making management decisions but also safeguards the legitimate interests of the new shareholder.
And last but not least, there are important practical considerations that should not be ignored. Does your equity investor get back to you quickly when you have queries? Do the meetings take place face-to-face or via video/telephone conferencing? Can meetings be arranged at short notice or does the investor need to fly in from London? How well does your investor understand not just the German legal system but also local practices? Most Anglo-Saxon financial investors employ Germans to look after their investments in Germany – but who stands in for them if they are not available? How well you, your former management colleagues and employees, and perhaps even your customers and suppliers, get on with the equity investor is also always a question of corporate culture. A financial investor with headquarters in the USA is often managed differently to the typical SME investor here in Germany. Before committing, find out whether their style suits you and your company.
When it comes down to it, after careful analysis of all of the above factors, the ‘chemistry’ between you and your equity investor is also a deciding factor. Are they true to their word or do they backtrack on things that had been agreed on in earlier discussions? Do you value the dialog, feel it is a partnership of equals and respect each other’s views and opinions? How have other entrepreneurs assessed their experiences with your potential investor? Ask for references and let your M&A advisor also gather a few opinions.
There is no doubt that the selling price is an important factor – but so is the question of whether or not the equity investor is a good match for you and your company. Because of the regional ties and sometimes even a regional link in the company’s name, many entrepreneurs wish for a fair solution that secures the company’s long-term success. Our recommendation: Set a realistic minimum bid price as a criterion for the shortlist. However, when it comes to making the final decision, also consider which other factors speak for the investor: network of contacts, financial flexibility and a working relationship that instills trust and confidence.
VR Equitypartner offers majority and minority shareholdings as well as mezzanine financing to medium-sized companies with growth prospects, without being tied to specific industries. We typically hold our investments for five to seven years. However, because we are not a fund, we have no fixed yield-driven selling pressure and can exit sooner or later. We are committed to working together in a spirit of partnership, do not burden the company with high levels of debt and allow operational management great freedom. With our know-how from 50 years of investment business and a comprehensive network of experts, we support companies in their long-term value development. We currently hold investments in around 100 companies.
Vom Hauptbahnhof Münster/mit öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln:
Mit dem Taxi benötigen Sie etwa 10 Minuten.
Mit öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln gibt es vom Hauptbahnhof mehrere Buslinien. Sie nehmen entweder die Buslinie 7 Richtung Kriegerweg, die Linie 15 Richtung Albachten oder die Linie 16 Richtung Mecklenbeck. Die Ziel-Bushaltestelle heißt in jedem Fall “DZ HYP/IHK”. Von hier überqueren Sie die Weseler Straße und finden schräg gegenüber den Sentmaringer Weg. Gleich im zweiten Haus auf der linken Seite (Hausnummer 21) finden Sie die VR Equitypartner GmbH.
Mit dem Auto:
Von der A1 und A43 kommend, fahren Sie am Autobahnkreuz Münster-Süd auf der B51 und später auf der B219 (Weseler Straße) Richtung Münster-Innenstadt. Nach der zweiten großen Kreuzung biegen Sie nach knapp 400 m rechts in den Sentmaringer Weg. Die VR Equitypartner GmbH finden Sie auf der linken Seite.
VR Equitypartner GmbH
Platz der Republik
60265 Frankfurt am Main
Platz der Republik 6
Entrance via Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage
From Frankfurt Airport:
Take the A5 towards Frankfurt to Westkreuz Frankfurt. Follow signs towards Frankfurter Westkreuz and Messe. From there, drive into Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage and follow the arrows on the map.
Parking is available in the public car park “Westend” in Savignystraße.
On request, we are happy to reserve one of our visitor parking spaces in Cityhaus I for you.
The entrance is in Erlenstraße.
With public transport:
Take S-Bahn line S8 or S9 (towards Frankfurt Hbf., Offenbach or Hanau) and you will arrive directly at the main station (Hauptbahnhof).
U-Bahn line U4 or U5 – Station Frankfurt(Main) Hbf.
It then takes around 5 minutes on foot from the station to VR Equitypartner.
Tram lines 11, 16, 17, 21 – Platz der Republik stop.