Family firm report


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Family firm report

  1. 1. Event report Succession of the Family Firm: Sell-it-on, Pass-it-on or have it managed for you? 25 June 2012, at ING BrusselsOn June 25th Vlerick MFM Alumni, in cooperation with ING, organized the third family firm event.This year’s edition was focusing on the succession and the transfer of family businesses. A subjectthat attracted a lot of interest from the Vlerick Alumni Community; more than 80 alumni were eagerto know more about the different aspects of transferring a family-owned company.The key message of the evening was that the transfer of a family business, whether it is a successionor a sale, should be prepared carefully. Not only legal and financial aspects matter in this context,also the importance of emotional and relational aspects should not be underestimated. Especiallythe latter is often neglected by people with a financial background.The evening kicked off with Jean-Philippe Bonte, head of wealth analysis & planning at ING Belgium,who guided the audience through the civil and legal aspects of succession. He explained theimplications of the inheritance law, the gift of shares of the family business and a sale of thecompany to an external investor.Walter Beyen, partner at Vectis Participaties elaborated on the characteristics of family firms andthe role of the external investor. His fund owns and manages a number of small and medium sizedfamily businesses. An investment strategy that is popular among these companies is the owner buy-out. This means that the founder/family of the business re-invests a part of the proceeds from thesale in the company. This approach provides many benefits for the founder such as the opportunityto diversify wealth, to empower key management and to benefit from the future growth gainedthrough the strategic advice from the financial investor.The next topic, conflict prevention and mediation, was presented by Hanne Van Waeyenberge,expert in family business mediation. For the founding family the sale or succession of the firm is along psychological process in which a lot of emotional and relational aspects should be considered.She started her presentation with a story of a man and his daughter that did not agree on the sale ofthe company. Through the involvement of a mediator, they realised that the discussions were notabout the sale, but about different visions and aspirations. Within succession of family businesses,the psychological well-being of the family is definitely not only driven by cash.Finally, Karel Boone, former CEO and chairman of Lotus Bakeries and many other family businesses,shared his vision on the successful succession of a family business. During his career, he has alwaysbeen a strong believer of the fact that a long term vision and strategy, a good functioning board anda good functioning management are essential elements for the continuity of a family business.Miguel Meuleman, assistant professor at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, moderated theevening and addressed several statements his team encountered in the field of the family firms. Thequestions raised during the Q&A session focused on potential tensions between investors and theselling family and executive and non-executive family owners and on governance to preserve longterm value creation as well as well-being. Many unanswered topics were ground for furtherdiscussions during the reception offered by ING.By Katrien Meeusen (MFM 2007)