FOCUS Investment Banking is part of M&A Worldwide (MAWW), an established international association of 37 M&A boutiques working together to facilitate cross-border activities such as mergers, acquisitions, corporate finance projects, and consulting. FOCUS has been a part of this network since 2005 and has completed 31 cross-border projects with its partners in this network.

One of the partners with which FOCUS has worked closely is Aeternus Corporate Finance. Headquartered right outside of Amsterdam in Venlo, the Netherlands, Aeternus is an independent investment bank, like FOCUS, that provides M&A and corporate finance advisory services to mid-sized companies in the Netherlands and throughout Europe.

FOCUS and Aeternus have undertaken a special effort to understand their clients’ needs in the other company’s respective country. The business environments of both the Netherlands and the US are similar in many aspects, including the importance of several key industries.

Major industries in the Netherlands include: *

AGRICULTURE AND FOOD: The Netherlands is one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural and food products, thanks to its innovative agricultural technology. Out of the top 40 food and drinks companies in the world, 12 have R&D centers located in the Netherlands. The total value of Dutch agricultural exports was $92 billion in 2015 (about 12 percent of GDP).

CHEMICALS: In 2014, Dutch chemical exports were valued at some $85 billion (about 11 percent of GDP). The Netherlands hosts offices for 16 of the world’s top 25 chemical companies, including BASF, Akzo Nobel, Dow Chemical, SABIC, and Shell.

ENERGY: The Netherlands has a strong presence in the areas of renewable energy and natural energy. The country is a major natural gas producer and is working to increase its production of energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Vitol Holding, a $223 billion company headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, distributes fuel and energy products worldwide.

HIGH-TECH (Information Technology): The export value from the High-Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM) sector was $50 billion (about 6.5 percent of GDP). Much of the high-tech sector is concentrated in the region of Eindhoven. Aeternus has an office in Eindhoven where they maintain relationships with several HTSM companies.

LIFE SCIENCES AND HEALTH: The Netherlands ranks eighth worldwide in patent applications for medical technology and second in patent applications for biotechnology. Over the last few years, the industry has annually exported around $41 billion in total goods and services.

LOGISTICS: The Netherlands is labeled the ‘Gateway to Europe’ due to the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port and fourth-largest worldwide, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Europe’s fourth largest airport.

After analyzing the industries listed above in the US and the Netherlands, FOCUS and Aeternus identified international business opportunities in the Agriculture and Food (specifically the craft beer brewing market) and the Logistics industries. These business opportunities allow FOCUS and Aeternus to collaborate, using the benefits of being part of an international association such as MAWW to advise prospective clients on strategic initiatives.

According to a Forbes report, “Best Countries for Business,” in 2015 the Netherlands ranked ninth in the world among best countries for conducting business. The ranking published data from multiple organizations and graded 144 nations on 11 different factors including property rights, taxes, technology, corruption, personal freedom, financial freedom, trade, bureaucratic policies, investor protection, and stock market performance.

The consulting firm B2EU specializes in assisting U.S.-based companies expand their operations in Europe by establishing an office/business in the Netherlands due to its pro-business environment. B2EU notes that U.S. companies consider expanding to Europe through the Netherlands because the Netherlands features:

  • A central location in the continent and first-rate logistics businesses to execute cross-border business;
  • An affluent, pro-U.S. population with a great respect for U.S. business and the highest level of English language fluency in Europe;
  • An innovative business community that excels in industries prevalent in the U.S., including information technology, healthcare, food and beverage, and manufacturing.

Since 2013, there have been 188 instances of a Netherlands company acquiring, merging with, or investing in a U.S. entity. On the other side, in the same time-period, there have been 346 transactions involving a U.S.-based company acquiring, merging with, or investing in a Netherlands-based company. Several examples of cross-border transactions between companies in the Netherlands and companies in the U.S. are listed in the chart accompanying this article.

[table id=2 /]

Regarding its partnership with Aeternus and the larger M&A Worldwide network, FOCUS Investment Banking is prepared to help its clients conduct business in Europe. Whether the objective is to expand operations or assist in forming strategic partnerships, FOCUS can utilize its network in Europe to help its clients achieve their business goals.

The January 2017 issue of the FOCUS newsletter will include a report on my observations and experiences after attending the November 2016 MAWW Convention in New Delhi, India.

Douglas E. Rodgers, FOCUS Chairman Emeritus, served as CEO and Managing Partner from 2001 until late 2018. During his time as CEO, he led the firm’s growth from one office in Washington, DC, to three offices across the US. He has C-level management experience in software, aerospace, e-commerce,