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Roland Berger appoints eight new partners in Europe

In home-country Germany, Frank Pietras and Uwe Weichenhain have joined the firm’s leadership. Pietras is based in Roland Berger’s Munich office and is an automotive expert. He specialises in automotive advisory, commercial due diligence, growth strategy, market & product strategy and business processes transformation.

Uwe Weichenhain has been with the consultancy for over a decade, and has been named a partner in the firm’s Energy & Infrastructure arm. He is an expert in new technologies that drive the transition towards sustainable infrastructure, including offshore wind, power transmission, gas and LNG, hydrogen, and digital technologies.

In the Netherlands, where Roland Berger has a team of around 100 consultants based in Amsterdam, Koen Besteman and Sameer Mehta have been promoted to partner level. Besteman specialises in the life sciences, and biopharma industry, supporting companies with innovation management, new market development, business cases, and setting up value models for research projects and portfolios. He also has gained extensive experience supporting universities with strategic and financing topics.

Having joined Roland Berger in 2010, Sameer Mehta focuses on merger & acquisition and investor support services. He works with private equity firms and corporate clients on topics related to due diligence, growth & performance improvement and restructuring. Mehta advises clients in a broad range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, healthcare and industrial products, with a particular focus on automotive, media, technology and steel.

In Sweden, Benny Guttman has been appointed a partner in the Gothenburg office. He has previously worked for three consulting firms, Accenture, EY and McKinsey & Company, prior to joining Roland Berger in 2017. In between consulting, he spent eight years at Volvo, the last six of which he was Senior Vice President at Volvo Logistics where he headed Strategy, Corporate Values and Operational Development. Guttman’s work is focused around strategic and operational improvement at clients in the automotive, manufacturing, med-tech and retail industries.

Artem Zakomirnyi has been serving the consulting firm for over twelve years, working from the offices in Moscow, Russia, and Kiev, Ukraine. He specialises in strategic and operations work in the consumer goods and retail industries. Zakomirnyi also has a deep understanding of supply chain and logistics topics, for both the traditional retail as well as online (e-commerce) retail channels.

Based in Bucharest, Romania, Szabolcs Nemes has been with the firm since 2001, in the period developing industry expertise in energy & utilities, telecommunications and transportation. His functional expertise spans strategy development, large-scale transformation, definition of new organisation models, operational excellence and efficiency improvement. Nemes supports clients in Romania and throughout the Central Eastern European region.

Last but not least, the Frenchman Pierre-Antoine Bodin, who has been named a partner in Roland Berger’s Pharma and Healthcare practice. Prior to joining the management consultancy in 2012, he spent eight years in various supply chain and marketing positions at pharma companies Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

Beyond the eight new partners in Europe, Roland Berger also promoted four partners in Asia and the Middle East.

How overseas growth can enhance your business

Expanding overseas can play a critical role in the prosperity of many mid-market companies, so it’s no surprise that 37% of businesses expect to increase exporting in the coming year. And if companies are not considering overseas growth, they can be sure their competitors will be.

Forging New Ground

One company that is already looking at exporting well beyond Europe’s shores is Norfolk-based Centurion, which has been making protective head gear, including helmets and face screens, since the nineteenth century. To safeguard its future, CEO Jeff Ward led the business through a total rebranding and restructure when he joined three years ago.

“Centurion is a 140-year-old business and, while our history is something we’re enormously proud of, it was hindering our progress,” says Ward.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that we were stuck in the past. Yes, we’d developed our product range and, yes, we were doing OK, but we weren’t growing and our approach to business was dated. We expected new business to come to us instead of going all out to raise our profile, to network and to make the types of connections that would lead to new contracts.”

Despite being one of the leading players in its sector, Ward says Centurion lacked visibility and definition in the market. “We were too vague about our identity, about what made us stand out from our competitors. Starting from scratch and looking at every aspect of our business helped us focus our attention on who we were and on our goals – the most vital of which was expanding overseas.”

Approaching Overseas Growth

Ward worked with our advisers on several aspects of Centurion’s restart, including raising its profile locally, optimising its R&D tax relief and, more recently, overseas growth. Over the past year, its international sales have grown by 30% – from £6 million to £9 million – and Ward expects this to continue in 2019, mainly in the Middle East and the US, where the company has a new partnership.

Repositioning itself in both the domestic and international marketplace was key to Centurion’s recent growth. “Exposure, perception and connections are vital when you are trying to expand,” says Ward. “Grant Thornton elevated our profile, initially on a local level by showcasing our company and its success as one of the top 100 businesses in Norfolk, and then by advising on our overseas growth. These are still early days, but I’m happy with the opportunities that are opening up. I’m excited about the partnerships we’ve established and hope that more will follow this year.”

JLL expands logistics advisory business with Vincia acquisition

Real estate services firm JLL has expanded its supply chain and logistics advisory platform with the acquisition of Vincia in France.

JLL acquired the French supply chain consulting business for an undisclosed sum and said the deal supports JLL’s plans to expand its industrial and logistics business and strengthen its supply chain platform by investing in markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The deal will expand JLL’s supply chain and logistics platform which currently provides services to landlords, occupiers and developers with more than 250 dedicated experts across 18 locations in EMEA.

Established 20 years ago, Vincia specialises in helping clients in the manufacturing and distribution services sectors to enhance their performance in the areas of service, cost and quality.

The acquisition of Vincia strengthens JLL’s capabilities in the sector which follows the acquisition of logistics and supply chain firm GCL Europe in 2014.

Charles Boudet, managing director, JLL France, said: “At a time of changing purchasing behaviour and the widespread introduction of omni-channel services, the logistics and supply chain market presents new opportunities for our clients.

“This acquisition strengthens our expertise in the sector and is key to enhancing our ambitions to grow our supply chain and logistics operations in France and beyond.”

Laurent Vallas, regional director and industrial and logistics assets sponsor, JLL France, said: “The acquisition of Vincia enables us to respond to the growing market demand for supply chain consulting services.

“It is an expansion of our capabilities in the sector which follows our acquisition of GCL Europe in 2014.”

Fabrice Mattei and Pascal Querro, co-founders of Vincia, said: “We have worked with JLL for a number of years on key projects.

“These shared experiences have always delivered great value to our clients and have proven that we share the same principles and culture of excellence.”

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Optimistic companies expect revenue growth over the next 12 months

With disruption rewriting traditional business operations, private business leaders remain steadfast in their optimism about the year ahead. In its second report on this important market segment, “Global perspectives for private companies: Agility in changing markets,” Deloitte details that despite market challenges, three-quarters of private business leaders express high or extremely high confidence in the success of their private firm over the next 24 months.

In a survey of 2,550 private company leaders across 30 countries, Deloitte found that the majority of respondents anticipate growth in six of eight key business metrics in the next 12 months. The strongest growth is predicted for revenue, productivity and profits – with companies in the Americas taking the lead in terms of expected increases, compared to counterparts in the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions.

“Private business leaders don’t necessarily view today’s disruption as negative, but rather as offering new opportunities for growth,” said Jason Downing, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and the U.S. Deloitte Private leader. “Despite some concern about trade policy and geopolitical uncertainty, the majority of executives we surveyed are highly optimistic about growth and truly have confidence in their company’s success in the year ahead.”

Proactivity is catalysing productivity

Technology has brought business closer to its customers but it has also upended business models. It has driven efficiencies but also fostered uncertainties. To address these conditions, firms globally are not staying idle but considering (43%) and implementing (40%) new business models to navigate disruption.

In conjunction with exploring new business models, companies are also looking for ways to improve growth. Globally, the top two strategies for firms are increased productivity (29%) and new product/service development (24%). Interestingly, these same two categories rank as the top competitive advantages.

Talent as the differentiator

Despite advances in adoption and implementation of technology, private business leaders realise their employees can be the differentiator and are investing in them through the following initiatives: 39% are devoting assets to training programs, 35% are increasing the number of full-time employees and 33% are investing in leadership development.

In order to attract and retain employees, 4-in-10 firms plan to reimagine learning and development programs using experiential formats, develop strategies to build an inclusive workforce, and increase their focus on flexibility and well-being programs.

Social purpose fuels corporate profits

With the influence of social media and the rise of employee activism, the majority of private business executives recognise that having a strong company culture is not a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” More than three-quarters (77%) of survey respondents agree that culture is strategically important to the success of the business.

Culture encompasses much more than the activity happening within a business and private company leaders today recognise this new reality. Specifically, the concept of social responsibility is resonating with private firms worldwide, with 66% viewing it as a top or high priority for their organisation. To make the most of these initiatives, organisations are focusing on corporate strategy as well as employee and customer branding to separate themselves farther from the competition.

Conducting business across borders

Regardless of business size or industry, technology has blurred borders and provides every company with the ability to be a global enterprise. In fact, the top driver cited for M&A activity over the next 12 months is the opportunity to enter new global markets (39%). The survey found that many private business executives expect to conduct an aggressive merger and acquisition strategy, with 42% believing it is likely or very likely they will participate in an acquisition in that timeframe.

This potential expansion comes in the face of uncertainties ignited by global trade tensions. While 24% of global respondents view trade barriers as a significant risk to growth, it is not at the expense of private business’ optimism: 15% of respondents cite entry into foreign markets as their company’s main growth strategy over the next 12 months.

“Despite some areas of uncertainty, private businesses remain the engine behind the global economy, fueled by their agility and ability to innovate,” Downing said.

About Deloitte Private

Deloitte Private is exclusively focused on serving private clients of all sizes and driven to address the opportunities and challenges unique to private businesses. Deloitte Private delivers audit and assurance, tax, consulting and risk and financial advisory services tailored for private companies, including family-owned businesses, closely held (nonfamily) businesses and private equity and venture-capital-backed businesses.

About Deloitte

Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90 percent of the Fortune 500 and more than 5,000 private and middle market companies. Our people work across the industry sectors that drive and shape today’s marketplace to make an impact that matters — delivering measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to see challenges as opportunities to transform and thrive, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en.html about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

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Canaccord Genuity acquires UK advisory firm McCarthy Taylor

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, the UK and Europe wealth management arm of Canada’s Canaccord Genuity Group, has bolstered its national presence by taking over Worcester-based financial advisory business McCarthy Taylor.

McCarthy, set up in 1998, offers bespoke financial planning and discretionary investment management services. The firm services clients across the Midlands.

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management CEO David Esfandi said: “The acquisition of McCarthy Taylor represents an opportunity to expand our Midlands presence and creates a regional financial planning centre of excellence, which will be fully supported by our broader UK team.

“Together we share an unwavering commitment to expanding our offering of best-in-class fully integrated investment management and wealth planning services to discerning investors across the UK.”

The acquisition, whose financial terms were not disclosed, adds around £171m to Canaccord’s books.

McCarthy CEO Paul Taylor said: “Today marks an exciting chapter in the evolution of our business, and I am confident that joining Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management will bring significant benefits for our clients and our employees as we expand our services and opportunities.”

Paul Taylor will remain actively involved in the business to ensure a smooth transition.

In 2017, Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management snapped up British wealth manager Hargreave Hale.

For more information about Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, please visit https://www.canaccordgenuity.com/wealth-management-uk/

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The case for regulatory-driven diversification in Ship Finance

A decade ago, we all knew of at least one shipping company that felt safe receiving its debt financing from a single source (a behaviour that was, unfortunately, encouraged by some bankers), and eventually experienced immense pain when some key-lenders abruptly withdrew from ship financing.

Back at that time, sourcing finance from a handful of different – typically European – banks (as opposed to, from a single one), was considered a sound approach to funding diversification, since the key driver for a Bank’s approach to lending was its own business policies and individual circumstances.

That was then. Next, the banking crisis happened. And then the shipping one followed… Both led to (a) an increased regulatory attention to bank-lending towards the shipping industry; and (b) the regulatory framework being the dominant parameter shaping each Bank’s business activity.

One unsurprising consequence of the above was that (European) bank lending, when it came to shipping, became much less abundant. A second, and initially less anticipated, change was that the approach of lenders, regulated by the same regulator, became significantly more homogeneous. A shipowner friend recently confided to me – half-seriously, half-jokingly – that “if I remove the bank logos from the term sheets I receive, I cannot really tell which-one sent me which.” This is mostly the result of the tighter regulatory framework under which European banks are operating and, jokes aside, highlights the need for regulatory diversification.

Given the importance that debt capital has for an industry as capital-intensive as shipping is, no shipping company can afford all of its lenders to operate under the same regulatory framework. Were it to do so, the result might be that next time something important happened, its lenders would be highly likely to change their views about their shipping exposure at the same time and in the same way. It is like operating a VLCC in high-seas, with no internal bulkheads limiting cargo shifting around: you don’t want to be on it when the wind starts blowing hard…

Thankfully, the alternative financiers, who flocked-in during the last few years, are a crowd made-up by highly different animals. We can hence observe “blocks” of lenders, each defined by the main regulator they operate under, with their respective members behaving in a correlated way. European banks are such a block, with a couple of sub-blocks, defined by the risk-rating model each bank uses to rate its obligors.

Another block are the Chinese financial institutions, another are the Japanese, each having different local regulatory frameworks and/or adopting global ones (like Basel IV) at a different speed than their European counterparts. An additional regulatory diversification bonus comes from the different local central banks’ monetary policies and the impact these have on respective lenders’ balance sheets and capacity to lend.

There is, of course, the block of lenders that are completely untouched by lending regulatory frameworks, such as the various credit funds: their activity is, of course, also contingent on market realities, views, models and limitations but – and this is the key issue here – these are different from the ones traditional financiers have.

The optimal mix of funding sources is a moving target, given the constantly changing finance scene, and also it differs from company to company, depending on parameters such as fleet size, corporate structure, or employment profile (but also some more nuanced ones like specific industrial relationships). A ship-finance specialist, whether internal or external to the company, can be the key for keeping this mix as-close-as-possible to optimal at all times.

Some might argue that the above approach is an expensive one: “I have a financier who provides me with a very competitively priced product, and I feel comfortable with him” or “Why start a new relationship with a geographically/culturally distant and/or more expensive lender?” are comments sometimes made.

In a nutshell, the answer is that diversification, even at some cost, works like an insurance policy. For an industry that has grown up having insurance at its heart (who can imagine shipping without it…) the concept of paying what could appear to be a ‘premium’ to hedge against a known and accepted risk (that of lack of financing), but which could pay-off in multiples later on, should not be that strange.

The ship financing scene is trying to find again its balance, while overall volatility in the finance world is increasing. Seeking regulatory diversification of funding sources might prove to be an efficient way to avoid “déjà vu all over again” as dear old Yogi Berra would have put it…

Dimitri G. Vassilacos is a Partner at Ship Finance Solutions (SFS), a boutique financial consulting firm specializing in the shipping sector. Prior to that he had assumed a variety of positions during a 20-year-long career in the banking sector, including Head of Greek Shipping at Citibank and Manager of the Shipping Division at National Bank of Greece.