Question 1: Back in 1999, what was it that made you take the step to start a Corporate Finance “boutique” in the Swedish market?
Stefan Erneholm: At that point we had 40 years of combined experience from Corporate Finance. As we both have a certain entrepreneurial flair, we felt it would be an exciting challenge to try to start our own business from scratch without relying on a large organisation with a strong brand in order to do business.
Stefan Haskel: In retrospect we can see that it has also given us a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship. It is definitely an advantage in our day to day activities, where we often give advice to owners, both private and institutional, or companies, public or private, on how to develop their businesses.
Stefan Erneholm: Our assignments can involve buying a business, but also to sell all or part of a company. Regardless of the type of transaction, we feel that our experience is very valuable as the similarities between different transaction processes often are bigger than the differences between industries. In some cases, an owner might only make one major transaction in his life, such as to sell his life’s work.
Question 2: But you must also have seen a need for a small firm in the market?
Stefan Haskel: Absolutely! We saw it then, and we still see it today. We were the first ones. Today there are a handful of firms of about the same size as ours, and they all have a role to fill in the marketplace.
Stefan Erneholm: What we wanted to test was whether we could build a business based solely on advisory services, without having a strong bank balance sheet behind us. This places high requirements on us, but it has also proven to be a concept which our clients appreciate as they can trust that we are completely independent of everyone else in the market. Integrity is our motto!
Question 3: So you mean that it is an advantage for your customers that you are a smaller organisation?
Stefan Haskel: The combined experience in the firm is extensive and one or more of our senior team members are always involved in the various transactions we work on. This means that we can be fast, flexible and maintain a high level of expertise at every stage of the transaction process. Bureaucracy in the firm is minimal!
Stefan Erneholm: In addition, given the size of the organisation only a very limited number of persons are aware of a deal at any given point in time, which implies a high degree of confidentiality.
Question 4: What’s your view of the market and your role going forward?
Stefan Haskel: The market is characterised by intense competition with many large firms. In our view this means that in the future there will continue to be room for independent, smaller players like us who can ’fly under the radar’ and assist our clients in various transactions without always being visible to the outside.
Stefan Erneholm: We base our business on a high degree of confidentiality, flexibility and strong relationships with our clients. This has been appreciated during our first 15 years as an independent advisory firm, and we confidently look forward to the next 15 years in that role.