M&A Awards: Winning Deals and Acquisition Strategies

Last modified: 28 November 2023 13:28
2021 was once again a fantastic year for the Belgian business world in terms of deals.

Also this year, the champagne was ready at the impressive Hotel Maison de la Poste in Brussels to raise a glass to all the wonderful deals concluded in Belgium over the past year. And that champagne was well-deserved. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deals and investments in Belgium was high in 2021. The jury had a lot of excellent entries to choose from this year!

Community manager Daphné Debaenst welcomed the gathering and took a moment to reflect on the current state of the community and plans for the next year. The M&A Community is full of ambition: to shape the growth of the community and the increasing engagement of Belgian members, four M&A Forums will be organized next year, along with a website focused on the Belgian market, featuring community news, background articles, interviews, and deal data.

It’s not always a given that a dinner speaker can quiet a room full of dining dealmakers, but the story of Marianne de Backer, responsible for growth and innovation strategy at Bayer, made a deep impression. The impact of pharmaceutical developments was powerfully illustrated by the video De Backer presented, showing how Connor, an American boy with a rare genetic defect, had overcome a debilitating muscle disease thanks to one of Bayer’s recently acquired gene therapies. It was also fascinating to hear about the specific challenges of the pharmaceutical market. Strategic players like Bayer always have to compete with IPOs (and nowadays, SPACs) in their M&A process. To win biotech founders for a strategic deal, De Backer has developed a sophisticated strategy that combines hands-off management and scientific support. However, such a strategy is not enough: in such an exciting market where new technologies emerge weekly, and huge amounts are at stake, you have to strike quickly and skillfully. When the audience heard that De Backer had closed a deal worth four billion dollars in record time, entirely remotely, there was a wave of admiration in the room. You have to dare to do it!

After the main course, it was time for the exciting moment everyone had come to Brussels for: the Awards ceremony. Cynthia Reekmans welcomed the winners to the stage and, with sharp questions, highlighted the key distinguishing elements of the winning deals. Of course, there were also beautiful and humorous acceptance speeches from the winners.

In the Best Large Cap Corporate Deal category, a significant deal between family offices took the spotlight – D’Ieteren acquired a stake in TVH. The Scandinavian expansion of cloud software provider Destiny Group won the Best Mid Cap Corporate Deal; the major acquisition of green filter manufacturer Desotec by Blackstone triumphed in the Best PE Growth Capital Deal. The impressively fast-growing software supplier for delivery services, Deliverect, won the award for the best funding round in Best Venture Capital Deal – Technology. The jury also annually awards a prize for the best venture deal in life sciences to underscore the importance of this sector for Belgium, and this year, AgomAb Therapeutics claimed the honor.

M&A Awards Jury Process

The nomination process for the annual M&A Awards begins in July and concludes on September 30. M&A and private equity professionals can submit pitches for pre-nominations in each category. The organization then compiles a longlist for each category. Starting from the 2021 edition, Vlerick Business School joined the organization as a knowledge partner. In-depth research is conducted on the deals on the longlist, and a shortlist is compiled for each category. The jury then gathers in October to cast their votes and select the nominees.

The 2021 jury included:

  • Urbain Vandeurzen, Chairman of the panel of judges, Co-Founder and Chairman Smile Invest
  • Renaat Berckmoes, Co-Founder and Partner Fortino Capital
  • Pierre Demaerel, Secretary General of the BVA and Chairman of the Belgian Growth Fund
  • Philippe Haspeslagh, Chairman of Capricorn Partners and Family Business Network Belgium, Honorary Dean Vlerick Business School, and Honorary Chairman Ardo
  • Sophie Manigart, Professor and Faculty Dean Vlerick Business School
  • Michael Sephiha, Journalist Mediafin/De Tijd

For more information, visit maawards.be.

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