OpportunityNet: Referral platform for entrepreneurs looking to buy and sell
Referral platforms exist not only for private relationships, but also for entrepreneurs. With OpportunityNet, Credit Suisse manages one of the largest databases of its kind in Switzerland. It helps individuals looking to sell their businesses connect with potential buyers and vice versa.
Baby boomers are currently reaching retirement age or will do so within the next few years. The generation that follows is smaller in number than the previous one, and it is no longer a matter of course for the children of baby boomers to follow in the footsteps of their entrepreneurial parents. So, what happens to a small business when the owner wants to retire? Occasionally, the existing management can find a suitable succession solution within the company. If this is not possible, then the most reasonable decision is often to sell the business to an outsider.
Company succession: What things are important?
Yet, finding the right buyer can be a demanding task. It also takes time that many entrepreneurs do not have. Moreover, most potential sellers have a strong emotional connection to their business and its employees. That is why they have certain ideas when it comes to a change of ownership.
With the OpportunityNet company exchange, Credit Suisse is creating new opportunities for buying and selling Swiss companies. It not only brings potential buyers and sellers of businesses together, but it also refers investors to companies with financing needs. The benefits of OpportunityNet as a referral platform therefore go far beyond company succession.
How OpportunityNet works
Credit Suisse's client advisors broach the emotional issue of succession with their clients. Clients who show interest are referred to our internal company exchange, called OpportunityNet. Stefanie Aubert-Graber was recently placed in charge of the portal. She says, "Our task is to collect as much information about the company being offered for sale or sought for purchase, and find matches with other clients already in the database." The team creates an anonymous profile so that Credit Suisse client advisors can propose it to potential buyers. The profile typically contains the sector, turnover, number of employees, profit, asking price, and region. Sometimes, certain details are omitted; for instance, if the combination of economic sector and region would immediately reveal the company's identity to insiders. Top priority is given to protecting the anonymity of those involved.
If the buyer and seller deem each other's profiles to be interesting, then the two parties are given mutual referrals. From that point on, the client advisors and an internal team of experts in succession take over in order to accompany both sides step by step until the process is concluded.
Credit Suisse: An expert in succession management
Why does Credit Suisse operate a referral platform such as this? As the Bank for Entrepreneurs, it specializes in company succession. Credit Suisse thus has the necessary expertise to manage this database. Because our corporate client advisors are well versed in the different options for succession, including their advantages and disadvantages, and all the legal aspects. For certain issues, such as those regarding inheritance law, which is closely related to succession, they will consult the bank's in-house experts, if necessary, during the succession process. Whenever transactions are more complex, specialists in mergers and acquisitions are brought on board.
Long before OpportunityNet existed, Credit Suisse client advisors noticed that they were often managing clients who wanted to sell on the one hand and clients who were potential buyers on the other. However, because they were bound by banking confidentiality, they were prohibited from intervening. For these reasons, Credit Suisse took the initiative in 2007 and has since offered the OpportunityNet service. Today, Credit Suisse advisors refer their clients who need to buy or sell a company to the platform. This generates up to 20 business relationships annually with transaction volumes of between one and twenty million Swiss francs.