Tag Archives: Raising capital

Belgian MAZARO trading Euronext

MAZARO’s IPO : a source of inspiration for capital-intensive scale-ups & SMEs

On March 8, Belgian firm MAZARO started trading on Euronext Access Brussels following a successful crowdfunding campaign and private placement where 3.7 million euros were raised. Furthermore, MAZARO became the first “crowdlisting” on Euronext Brussels.

MAZARO is an automotive engineering firm that devised and patented a completely new transmission system for a variety of cars, auxiliary, and industrial applications. MAZARO’s goal is to research and optimize the whole driveline for the typical driving cycles of vehicles or industrial applications.  With over 25 years of transmission design and development experience, the company has developed subsystems and components, as well as selected sensors and purchased parts to be used in their new designs.  They are constantly improving their products by generating new solutions. Filip De Mazière is the creator of MAZARO’s technology, as well as the company’s co-founder and director. For over 25 years, he has been developing transmissions and clutches for major manufacturers of high-end sports cars, passenger automobiles, off-highway vehicles, and material handling equipment.

MAZARO’s decision to go public was not unexpected. Small-cap IPOs are more suited to firms with innovative operations and R&D cycles , such as MAZARO, than to companies with more traditional operations. For example, for a fashion retailer to be relevant, the IPO must be much greater than for an Artificial Intelligence company.

Furthermore, going public will help the company fund its future growth and development. Some examples of how it can do this include financing research, diversifying and expanding its sources of finance, promoting the firm, and benefiting from a market price. Going public will also boost MAZARO’s exposure and credibility by attracting new partners, contracting with new suppliers, and making it easier to recruit and retain staff. Finally, IPOs will help safeguard the managerial autonomy of MAZARO´s founders as it fragments the shareholder structure.

Given the overriding advantages of going public, MAZARO decided to raise funds through a crowdfunding campaign in order to ensure that they could be listed. Crowdfunding is a great option for smaller entrepreneurial companies that need to build both brand awareness and capital. This is exactly what MAZARO managed to achieve through its crowdfunding campaign with Spreds, a Belgian SaaS platform for the digital management of stakeholders.

Initially, the company had set out to raise 500,000 euros for its Initial Public Offering (IPO) however, due to the fact the capital raised during crowdfunding exceeded expectations the limit was raised to 800,000 euros. On the 7th of January, this amount was reached and the first part of MAZARO’s IPO on the Access market had been completed.

Following the success of the crowdfunding campaign, MAZARO went on to raise €2.9 million (incl. €700,000 in the context of authorised capital) from private placement investors. This is the first time that a crowdfunding operation, a private placement and an IPO have been combined in Belgium. Guy Van der Heyden, Managing Director at ONEtoONE explains that “the interest of this formula is to create more liquidity. If we were to limit ourselves to a private placement, we would have had about fifteen shareholders at the time of the IPO. Thanks to crowdfunding, the company began its stock market journey with more than a hundred shareholders, not counting the candidates who subscribed to the crowdfunding round and were not able to provide funding due to the limit imposed.”


Finally, this provided MAZARO with a direct listing on Euronext Brussels’ Access market, which is targeted for SMEs and gives small-cap IPOs simplified access to capital markets. The combination of crowdfunding and a listing on Euronext Access will boost the liquidity of MAZARO’s shares for all crowdfunding participants. Euronext access will serve as a stepping stone for MAZARO and emphasize the firm’s promising future ahead. This assumption can be made based on factual success stories. Direct Energies, for example, began trading on Euronext Access in 2004 with a market capitalization of 18 million euros, and by 2018, the firm had been acquired by Total Energies and is now valued at more than 1.9 billion euros. In the meantime, MAZARO transferred from Euronext Access to Euronext Growth in 2005 (at a market capitalisation of c. €100m) and from Euronext Growth to the regulated market in 2015 (at a market cap. multiplied by close to 8x: €775).

To sum up, MAZARO’s formula combining crowdfunding, private placement, and IPO is a first in our latitudes and may encourage small innovative and highly entrepreneurial companies to break the bias and gain the recognition they deserve The Belgian financial newspaper L’Echo describes MAZARO as “a source of inspiration for others.” Filip De Mazière, CEO of MAZARO comments on the transaction:  “In the run up to our listing on Euronext Access, we successfully raised €800,000 from retail investors through a crowdfunding campaign. In addition, we collected an extra €2.9 million from a series of private investors who believe in the added value and high commercial value of MAZARO´s technology. We sincerely thank all investors for their trust. With their support, we are ready for a bright future with a great, positive impact on our environment.”

Media coverage

MAZARO’s achievement drew a lot of media attention from all around the world. A brief video of ONEtoONE manager Guy Van der Heyden being interviewed on Belgian TV station LN24 is linked below. This part of the programme discusses the listing of “small” SMEs, as well as MAZARO’s history and how it came to be listed on the Euronext stock exchange.

Link to video: Success stories: Euronext, mise en bourse des petites PME (ln24.be)

The Banker also recently published an article outlining the stages involved in MAZARO’s listing and crowdfunding procedure. Reporter Shanny Basar discusses how being listed increases visibility and should serve as an incentive for other capital-intensive scale-ups and SMEs.

Click here to read the full article.

The search for investors for the sale of your company

Every company has an optimal time to be sold, and it is vital to make an effort to know and be aware of it so as not to regret it later.

As advisors, we start working with a company one or two years in advance of a sale. We prepare it to improve its value, make it more attractive, attract more buyers, increase the probability of success, remove obstacles that would hinder the sale, and minimize the tax impact and equity consequences.

One of the main objectives of the preparation is to identify the critical areas for improvement, act on them, and reduce the potential risks that a possible investor currently perceives. The more attractive you make the company to the investor, the more you can ask for and the more you will receive for it.









Reasons for the sale

There can be many reasons why an entrepreneur would consider the opportunity to sell their business.  Here are some circumstances that may make a sale or investor search desirable:

  1. For personal reasons: The businessowner is preparing themself for retirement, they want to do something different in their life, change of business or increase dedication to other more profitable companies that require more attention, due to health problems.
  2. For familiar reasons: Disagreements between family members over management, lack of interest or preparedness of children to continue leadership.
  3. For corporate reasons: Conflict of interest among shareholders, financial investors wanting to exit, different financial capabilities among partners.
  4. For economic reasons: The company needs a new injection of resources, technological obsolescence, lack of access to growth capital, receipt of a good offer for the company, the value of the real estate assets on which the company operates is higher than the value of the business.
  5. For competitive reasons: The entry of a powerful competitor, growth, relocation, loss of human capital, the company has maximized its potential in its market, the loss of essential costumers, a stage of peak value in the sector or the appearance of substitute products.
  6. For legal reasons: There are changes in the sector’s regulatory environment or tax and fiscal policy.

10 Keys to attracting investors

Having listed the circumstances that may lead an entrepreneur to sell their business or to look for investors, it is now necessary to list the ten key points that will help you to attract investors.

1. Understand what you want and what you are aiming for. Our objectives give us direction, but our expectations give us the strength to negotiate.

2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. 99% of success is due to preparation. During the process, you must work out the opportunity it represents for the buyer: What are their economic motivations? How much do they expect to earn from your company? What do they want it for? What do they intend to do with

3. Reach an agreement with the “best” alternative investor you have. If you lack alternatives, you lack negotiating power, and the buyer will take advantage of it to get constant concessions. How do you know if that buyer is the right one? Is it the one for whom your company creates the most value or who can pay the most for it? Only a sound methodology for searching for alternatives will allow you to find out.

4. A good negotiator asks a lot, talks little and listens well. Share information, but above all, get relevant information. Ask twice as many questions as your counterpart, request clarification of answers and summarize what they have heard to check that they have understood correctly.

5. A good negotiator builds trust and never lies. They do not create expectations that they will not fulfil and they keep their promises. They earn the respect of the other party during the process because they are reliable.

6. Create the optimal conditions for a good “negotiating framework” before meeting the other side at the negotiating table. Having the right people at the table achieves the above. It would help if you did a mapping of the interests of all the parties involved in the negotiation. Is there anyone who might torpedo the operation because they have other interests? How can they be convinced to help?

7. Identify the actual decision-maker. In addition to the acquiring company’s interests, there are other interests to consider, including those of the people negotiating. You have to find out who is making the decision and their interests, their needs, and what they themselves are looking for. Do they have the authority to close a deal?

8. Show interest in the interests of the other parties. This will make them care more about your interests too, a win-win situation. Building empathy helps to create a favorable climate for negotiations. Be strict in your demands and understanding of the other parties. Negotiation is a game of information, and information gives you power. You should seek to understand their needs rather than their wants.

9. Power is a very relative concept. In negotiation, power will depend on your alternative investors and the alternative opportunities of the other party. Don’t forget that 50% of negotiation is emotion. You must understand and control your emotions towards the talks.

10. A good negotiator can make the pie grow, instead of fighting for the biggest piece. They maximize its value by helping both parties achieve their goal. The first step is to believe that it is possible. Negotiation is an information game, which is why the best negotiators focus more on receiving information than giving it. If you know how to dig deeper into the other party’s needs, you will discover things that are very important to them and do not entail a high cost for you; you can exchange them for things that are essential for you and that have little significance to them.

First contacts with investors

To embark on finding the best investor, the seller must have a team of specialist advisors who can advise and guide them throughout the process and help them make the best decisions. If a seller dares to sell their business without any help, they are likely to fail.

As a professional expert, the advisor makes the first contact with the potential buying company’s decision-maker. This person is usually, depending on the company’s size, the owner, the CEO, the Managing Director or, in larger companies, the Corporate Development Director of the relevant division.

Making a personal contact with an investor is not easy and requires a lot of effort:

  1. Identify them.
  2. Know how to overcome filters, be consistent in calls.
  3. Interest them.

When we speak, we outline the type of transaction you are proposing and why you see it as a precise fit with your company’s competitive strategy without ever identifying the company. If the investor is interested, a blind teaser is sent across.

If there is interest, their reasons for investing are analyzed, and an explanation of their investment capacity is requested. If they are not interested, we also ask why, as this will give us clues as to whether we are approaching the search for investors correctly.

If their response is positive, a confidentiality agreement is sent to you, guaranteeing the proper use of the information to be provided by the recipient.

This stage is slow due to the professional nature and lack of time for discussions and the significant follow-up effort required to get a personal interview with them. One reason for having advisors is that they free up the seller’s workload by taking care of the sales process themselves.

Once the signed confidentiality letter has arrived, and we want to move forward, we arrange a meeting for the delivery and presentation of the sales booklet.

For potential, foreign buyers, we contact them directly. However, we will also provide a blind profile of the company that we are selling to investment banks. Furthermore, we also have relationships within other countries to identify other companies or investors in their areas that we have missed.

The advisory team’s mission is to research potential investors and what their track record has been in other acquisitions: prices, multiples, payment formulas, as well as understanding the strategic rationale for how this acquisition would fit their growth process. It is also essential to answer the following questions: How has their company developed this year? What has been their trajectory and history? In which geographical areas are they present? Who are their customers and suppliers?  What is their growth strategy? Knowing how to answer these questions will give us the advantage of being able to improve exposure.

Investors for each stage of a company

Suppose you, as an entrepreneur, are looking for investors. You will need to approach different types of investors depending on your company’s stage of development, as shown in the following image.

  • Seed capital:

Seed capital consists of betting on a business idea when there is not yet a business structure. The idea of a new company is the result of an entrepreneur’s fascination, concern or obsession. The usual way to raise capital at this early stage of a new business project is to rely on family and friends. People who trust the founders, who believe in their ability to take their idea forward and are willing to support them and are aware that it is tough to find an investor.

  • Start-up:

Start-ups are companies that are starting to function, taking shape and attracting their first customers. In many cases, the founders have put in everything they have, the company is growing, and everyone is demanding more investment. The founders do not have the resources to finance the company’s growth; they have no support from financial institutions as they have no way of providing guarantees and they need investors to put up the money. Otherwise, the company will not be able to continue to grow.

In this situation, when the project is robust and well-executed,  new types of investor may appear:

    • Business Angels: Figures with an increasing presence in our country, usually a former entrepreneur or a private investor committed to investing in start-up business projects, with contributions of between 200,000 and one million euros. The business angel has the scope to achieve a higher degree of diversification with their equity by participating in different projects. In turn, it helps entrepreneurs to have access to a larger pool of funds for growth.
    • Pledge funds: These consist of a group of professional investment experts that bring together a few entrepreneurs in an investors’ club. They pay a fee to the club, and the professionals identify and select exciting investment projects.
  • Capital development

For a company to pass the start-up stage, at least three years must have passed since its foundation.

The company is now already a reality, as there is a growing business structure. Most commonly, at this stage companies generate less cash than they need to finance their growth. This is a natural phenomenon because companies first have to pay money to source products. To recoup the investment, they will have to sell them and wait to cash out, so the more they grow, the more they have to spend first.

If you do not find investors, your success will be the death of you.

This is particularly serious for companies with a low profit-to-sales ratio, as profits do not cover the funds needed to finance growth, and the more the company grows, the more the cash flow is depleted. If they want to continue to grow, they need investors.

  • Family office

It is an office created for the comprehensive management of a family’s wealth: this office takes care of its financial, real estate and business investments, its taxation, its succession, and its general financial planning.

Family groups that have sold companies will be looking to invest in other companies to benefit from reinvestment deductions. If a company has made capital gains on divestment, it will tax at 30% (general corporate tax rate). However, it can reduce this taxation to only 18% (saving tax on 12% of the capital gain) if it reinvests during the following three years in a company, purchasing a stake of more than 5%. This tax opportunity is a clear incentive for family offices to invest in other companies.

  • Leveraged transactions on mature companies

During this stage of the company’s life, growth is less pronounced. It is entering a phase of maturity, where it can even comfortably pay out dividends, with stable earnings generation.

At this stage, private equity funds specializing in debt buyouts appear as potential buyers or investors. These are funds that take advantage of the ability to leverage (also called leveraging) the company to offer a higher price to the seller.

Companies that generate stable profits and have little debt are of interest to these funds, as they will use debt as leverage to buy.

They try to put little capital and a lot of debt into the operation by offering as collateral for the banks the future cash flows that the acquired company will bring in. Predictable and recurrent flows are necessary for the bank to lend more money.

NEWCOs (New Company) facilitate purchasing operations.

The importance of having a business structure

The company does not necessarily have to have a closure stage. Once we reach the maturity phase, we must structure it for continuity over time.  To sell a company, it needs to have a business structure that allows it to be independent of its owner.

The company must have a life of its own. The founder or owner should be, albeit important, a passenger in the company. Only then does a sale to another group of companies or a management team accompanied by a private equity firm make sense.

This is relevant because, in many cases, the entrepreneur is the company. When they want to sell it, they do not realize that the company is worthless without them, because the entrepreneur themself plays such an important role that they take away the value by leaving.

When this occurs, there are two alternatives if the owner wants to leave the business and give it continuity. Either prepare the company for sale by providing it with a corporate structure or break it up by selling it in parts (machines, warehouses, stock, etc.) and terminating or indemnifying the contracts you have, whether they are labour or business contracts.


About ONEtoONE

At ONEtoONE, we are experts in finding national and international investors, and we know how to locate your best partner. Our investor search team, supported by the best and most comprehensive international databases and analytical capabilities, can identify and contact more than 300 investors worldwide on each transaction. We focus on your company by understanding the aspects that will help you maximize the deal’s price, once we locate those investors with whom you are most comfortable and who best value your company’s potential.

ONEtoONE acted as exclusive corporate finance advisor to Securitas Belgium on the acquisition of Services in Safety

ONEtoONE acted as Exclusive Corporate Finance Advisor to Securitas Belgium on the Acquisition of Services in Safety

ONEtoONE acted as exclusive corporate finance advisor, facilitating the acquisition process. Securitas AB is a security services, monitoring, consulting and investigation group, based in Stockholm, Sweden. The group has over 330,000 employees globally, of which 6,000 in Belgium. Securitas AB is listed at Nasdaq OMX Stockholm, Large Cap segment.

Services in Safety (SIS) is an Antwerp-based specialist in safety solutions. SIS tells 50 employees and has an annual turnover of c. €6m. This acquisition will help Securitas Belgium grow its presence in the Safety area.

Over the last decade, Securitas gradually expanded its scope of activities to become an integrated solutions provider. In recent years, Securitas showed sustained growth of its safety training activities (firefighting…).

“The accumulated knowledge and the presence of SIS in the petrochemical cluster in the harbour of Antwerp are an ideal addition to our services and client portfolio. Today we definitely entered the market of ‘integrated security services’,” thus Sven De Smet, Area Manager High Risk and Safety.

“During the conversations with Securitas it became clear that we had the same vision about the future of safety. We will also foresee the continuity toward our clients, by keeping our whole team, and by keeping me as company director. The synergies that Securitas offers as a multinational, are without doubt interesting for our customers”, concludes former owner of SIS, Joël Goffart.

About ONEtoONE

ONEtoONE, as a corporate finance advisor, contributed to the success of the acquisition process. ONEtoONE Corporate Finance Benelux is an entity of ONEtoONE Corporate Finance Group. The Brussels office offers M&A advisory services to mid and large corporates. ONEtoONE CF Benelux also offers private placement services and is listing sponsor on Euronext Brussels.

For any further information please contact Mr. Jeroen Maudens, Partner: [email protected] or Mr. Daniel Gillet, Managing Partner: [email protected]

Click here to find out how to effectively integrate post acquisition!