Hogenhouck, an M&A firm based in The Hague, is heading for its best year since its founding nearly a decade ago. So far, the consulting firm has been involved in 16 transactions. National website Consultancy.co.uktook a closer look at the track record of Hogenhouck and Hogenhouck co-founder Rik Stikkelbroeck and asked him for text and explanations.
In 2007, Rik Stikkelbroeck (left) and Mark Van Beusekom (right) – they met in 1999 while working for Participation Solutions* – decided to join forces and start Hogenhouck . The M&A Office is mainly aimed at mid-market deals (value between € 10 million and € 100 million), including a focus on the IT sectors (managed services, hosting, business intelligence, hardware, software, services), industry, food and staffing. Working explicitly not on hourly fees – but on limited fixed retainers and succes fee – they had a different angle, brought a different sound in the market .
Over the past decade, Hogenhouck has built a strong name for itself in the market and in 2016 has grown into an M&A firm with a team of seven professionals, helping clients with a variety of financial services. Thus, the firm, based in The Hague, provides services at the intersection of Acquisition, Sale, Management Buy Out (MBO), Valuation, Management Buy In (MBI) and Financing. In doing so, all services are centered on a transaction.
Speaking to Consultancy.nl, Stikkelbroeck says that 2016 is already the best year in the history of the still young agency. “We have closed 16 deals so far, something we are extremely proud of.” For example, in Q1 of this year, the firm was involved in the sale of Computication to Ram Mobile Data, an international IT service provider in the field of mobile and fixed data communications, and acted as purchase advisor in the acquisition of iProfs by Finalist, an open source IT specialist.
In April 2016 followed the closing of another deal within the ICT market – Hogenhouck assisted Infotheek Group in its sale to Altor Equity Partners, a private equity house from Sweden, with the acquisition of a majority stake in Infotheek, one of the larger suppliers of ICT equipment in our country with revenues of more than €300 million. With the capital injection, Infotheek is bursting with ambition. Soon after, for example, CEO Jordy Kool let slip that his goal is to greatly expand Infotheek’s sales within a few years. About working with Hogenhouck, Kool said at the time that he appreciated the firm’s “pragmatic attitude and no-nonsense mentality.” “The lines within Hogenhouck are short and if we need them, they are always available. That makes it pleasant to connect,” he added.
It was not the first time Kool had worked with Hogenhouck. “Infotheek first engaged us when Kool (Ceo of the Year) bought into Infotheek Group through a Management Buy in,” Stikkelbroeck says. “Over the years, the cooperation has intensified. For example, Hogenhouck was involved in the acquisition of Condor IT, Nimble, Network2Day and in 2015 the acquisition of 4Launch.” Other transactions within the IT market in which Hogenhouck was involved in 2016 continue to include Gilde Equity Management’s investment in Impulse Info Systems (as a buying party) and a number of sales transactions such as Net Ground (Managed Hosting sold to KPN) and Finalist’s acquisition of iProfs (IT secondment provider). In adjacent sectors, Hogenhouck is also active such as the acquisition of PAT-Krüger – a supplier of safety and control systems for “heavy duty equipment” – by entrepreneur Coert Kleijwegt.
More recently, the Hague-based M&A firm played a role in an investment round by Eyefreight, a provider of Level 5 SaaS Transportation Management System (TMS) technology, and the acquisition of Lancom (Managed Services) by Dutch investment collective BBB Invest. During the latter deal, Hogenhouck provided sell-side advisory, while in the former it supported Eyefreight.
In recent months, the M&A firm advised on three transactions. In October, Hot ITem, a specialist Performance Improvement consultant, announced that it had sold a majority stake to De Hoge Dennen Capital – Hogenhouck helped the top three player in BI in the Netherlands from Amsterdam prepare for the capital injection and close the deal. Along with Infotheek Group, the largest transaction this year in which Hogenhouck acted as advisor was the acquisition of Seafood Parlevliet by Cornelis Vrolijk. With the acquisition, some 225 employees made the move from Seafood Parlevliet to the larger fishing company Cornelis Vrolijk (1,500 people worldwide). Hogenhouck served as one of the IJmuiden-based buyer’s financial advisors.
On Hogenhouck’s bulletin board of testimonials stand out a few more deals in 2016: Sales Channel (buying a minority stake from the major shareholder), Geomet (the Dutch geotechnical consulting firm acquired by Belgian listed ABO Group), Voskamp Group (acquisition of DareTronics) and Yellowstar Solutions (entry of a minority shareholder). Finally, there was also a transaction in the consulting business. In February this year, the parent company of HR agency Leeuwendaal acquired sector peer Higher & Company , Hogenhouck acted on behalf of the Rijswijk-based buyer.
Asked what the secret is behind the record year, Stikkelbroeck says: “The ‘success of our business model’ is in all likelihood due to the loyalty of our clients caused by the quality of our services. By offering real added value, acting as a trusted advisor and prioritizing long-term relationships over short-term successes, since 2007 we have grown into an M&A boutique where clients feel at home.” He points to a number of factors for the stated trust from clients, such as “clear alignment of the business model, not hours but a value-added model, clear and modest retainers along the way combined with a market-based success fee. The majority of our clients are long-term, about 40% of our assignments are recurring!” For the coming months, Hogenhouck expects to see a similar picture as in previous months: “Our expectation for the longer term, of 2017 and beyond, will be in line with that of 2016. Continued equity market weakness combined with continued low interest rates will continue to impact pricing in the market in 2017. Many parties remain persistently looking at acquisitions, both from private equity and cross border strategists,” concluded Stikkelbroeck.
* Participation Solutions was a specialist in setting up long-term successful equity arrangements started by Van Beusekom in 1999 and joined by Stikkelbroeck in 2000. In 2004, the company was sold to Private Bank Insinger de Beaufort.