Marktlink, the acquisition specialist based in Antwerp, opened a second office in Birmingham in November in addition to the existing office in Manchester. The second office in the United Kingdom also offers opportunities for Belgian companies.
Marktlink was founded in the Netherlands and since 1996 has grown into the largest independent acquisition specialist in the higher SME segment of the Benelux. With an international team of more than 200 internal M&A specialists (mergers & acquisitions) Marktlink guides companies in transactions with a deal value between 5 and 250 million euros. Marktlink is active in Germany, Scandinavia, the Benelux and the United Kingdom. The office in Belgium is located in Uitbreidingstraat in Antwerp. In 2022, Marktlink closed 150 deals.
A European sentiment analysis on takeovers, carried out on behalf of Marktlink, shows that British entrepreneurs are looking to the future with optimism after years of economic challenges. According to the company, around six in ten British entrepreneurs surveyed expect an improvement in the SME takeover market in the coming year. For example, Marktlink finds the choice for a branch in the Midlands an obvious one.
“This is also a good thing for Belgian companies,” says Filip Mariën, who heads the Antwerp branch. “63 percent of the entrepreneurs in Belgium interviewed in the sentiment analysis think it is a good time to buy a company. 35 percent also say that they have thought about selling their company in the past twelve months. That Flanders is a smaller market than, for example, Germany or the United Kingdom, we need to move to other countries more quickly in search of market expansion. Then partnerships are a possible solution.”
Debt markets, interest rate ceilings and Brexit
Joe Moran, with experience at Deloitte, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce, will lead the Birmingham office from 1 November. “While international transactions are the rule rather than the exception, we do see that acquisition processes take more time due to more complex processes,” he says. “Buyers are more critical and want more certainty. So more research needs to be done,” said Joe Moran. “The United Kingdom has emerged from a deeper valley than other European countries, with challenges such as debt markets, interest rate ceilings and Brexit. This offers a positive view of the development of the market. Moreover, with this step, Marktlink opens the doors for SME entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom to Marktlink’s extensive European network.”