Company Exchange for SMEs
Referral platforms exist not only for private relationships, but also for companies. With Opportunity Net, Credit Suisse manages one of the largest databases of its kind in Switzerland.
For more than three decades, Mr. Müller navigated his business through all kinds of weather. Up until his 60th birthday, he kept putting off the question of who would succeed him at the company’s helm. “I had secretly hoped that one of my two daughters might express an interest,” he says. It was his bank advisor who eventually presented the facts clearly and opened his eyes: His daughters weren’t going to take over the company. “I realized that I had to act now – after all, I had 32 employees who mattered a great deal to me, just like the future of my life’s work.” His goal was to find a buyer, but also to retain a portion of the shares and to stay on with the company for a while as an advisor. He didn’t want to shout his intent to sell from the rooftops, as he feared this could damage the business. But how to find the right buyer?
Facts, Data, and Intuition
Müller’s client advisor directed him to Paul Monn, who is responsible for the Opportunity Net platform at Credit Suisse. “Opportunity Net is a referral platform for companies,” says Paul Monn. It brings together potential buyers and sellers of companies, and also links investors with growing companies and financing needs. With Mr. Müller, Paul Monn developed a portrait of the company and completed an anonymized profile, intended for the Credit Suisse advisors of potential buyers. Only Credit Suisse employees can access the anonymized data, which includes economic sector, turnover, number of employees, profits, and if necessary, the asking price and the region. “My job is, initially, about collecting data and really getting to know the company. Then comes the part where intuition plays an important role. There have been times when I’ve suggested something entirely different from what the client was originally looking for – and still managed to hit the nail on the head,” Paul Monn explains.
Opportunity Net was created as a service for Credit Suisse clients in 2007. It facilitates up to 20 matches a year, with a financing or investment volume of over 100 million Swiss francs, and the numbers are growing. According to Paul Monn, one of the greatest challenges is finding a suitable external successor to lead a smaller company. Failing to find this often means the loss of Swiss jobs. That is exactly what might have happened in the case of Mr. Müller, had he not found the perfect buyer through Opportunity Net. “Just one suitable candidate came my way through Opportunity Net,” Müller confirmed. “But he was a perfect fit.” And things turned out as he had hoped: The former owner retained part of his shares, and he assumed a limited advisory role in his former company. Now he is looking for a new investment opportunity – through Opportunity Net, of course.