Interview with expert

Thanks to his extensive experience in international management and more than 25 years of experience in M&A transactions, Joseph Baert is a respected advisor. He is the founder and Managing Partner of Level Next, a consultancy firm where he has led more than 50 transactions for his clients.


Previously, Joseph Baert was active in the corporate business for 15 years, where he held CFO and CEO positions and supervised around 20 transactions. Joseph Baert holds two masters degrees in Civil Engineering, an MBA and a postgraduate degree in accountancy.


Joseph has been working regularly with ADM in the past few years in the context of acquisitions and appreciates that ADM is able to select appropriate candidates. TIP-IM had an interesting conversation with Joseph about the theme of transactions and the role that Interim Managers can play in this process.


TIP-IM: "Joseph, which impact did the corona crisis have on the transactions of companies?"


JB: "The COVID crisis has had a substantial impact on the transactions of companies. During the first COVID wave several deals were put on-hold or cancelled altogether, and the overall EBITDA multiple dropped fast with a factor 1. However, according to Argos Wityu (www.argos.wityu.fund), in the third quarter of 2020, the acquisition price of unlisted European SMEs is almost back to its pre-crisis level but the number of deals is still low. What is striking is that during this very special year, the sellers want more deal certainty and are willing to shift a bigger share to the earnout, which is of course a request of the buyers.”


TIP-IM: "Do you think that in this exceptional context many business leaders have thought of selling their business when the situation has somewhat improved?”


JB: "I don't expect many business leaders to take this step in the coming months. We notice that there are significantly less new files in the market. What we notice amongst CEOs and company owners is that the lockdown has brought some of them to other insights regarding their company. They have realized that their company was structured less efficiently than they thought. They are considering to restructure the organization, the team or the processes in the near future to make their businesses healthier and their company more attractive and valuable before they eventually decide to sell the company."


TIP-IM: "Can Interim Managers play an important role here?"


JB: "They surely can. Competent Interim Managers are often better equipped to bring stability and persistence in a company where change or restructuring is needed. Because of their neutral and fresh insight they get more things done and obtain more credit among the people who temporarily hire them, often within a well-defined time frame. The financial Interim Managers usually have strong analytical skills, and they are often able to pinpoint, based on the financial or operational data, the weak points or the opportunities to optimize the value of a company. In the preparation of a transaction, Interim Managers can certainly prove their added value."

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