Good afternoon, Mr Horn. Congratulations once again on the transaction with Harald Quandt Industriebeteiligungen and Cadence Growth Capital. How was the first year after the acquisition?
The first year since the acquisition has been very exciting for me and I have been able to learn a lot in that time. Overall, I am very satisfied, both with the transaction itself and with the cooperation with my new partners Harald Quandt Industriebeteiligungen and Cadence Growth Capital. I have never regretted this decision and would do it all over again any time. But for me personally it was a somewhat bigger change to now work in a larger organization with several companies. You must collaborate in way that the different companies within the group benefit from each other. I think we have managed that quite well so far.
Your company has a long history. How did the idea of founding come up? What are the current challenges?
During my studies I already wanted to earn my own money and therefore founded my own company in 1985. I the transitioned this company into HORN & COSIFAN Computersysteme GmbH in 1993. The exciting thing about the IT industry is that it is very fast-moving, meaning today’s IT is very different from yesterday’s IT. People work very differently today than they did five or ten years ago, and the great part is that this will continue in the future.
Currently, there are two major challenges in our industry. On the one hand, there is a major supply chain issue combined with rising purchase prices, and on the other hand, the search for qualified personnel is becoming more and more difficult.
You decided to continue to take an active role in the new corporate structure. What advantages and disadvantages can such a step entail for founders looking for a succession solution?
Handing over my company to a third party without an active involvement was out of the question for me from the very beginning. A period of one to two years for a successful, long-lasting handover is usually necessary. Consequently, we decided to invest this time together and are very well on track.
Of course, I am now also accountable towards others, something really when you previously were a 100% shareholder. However, it is absolutely an advantage to be able to examine your own business even more analytically and with better structured data than I did before. Another very positive aspect is that I still enjoy a great deal of freedom and still manage the operational business of HORN & COSIFAN autonomously.
What is the advantage of operating as part of a group of companies?
Before the transaction, I had many fellow business partners, but never anyone who was in the same boat as me. Now this is completely different with the sister companies in our group – everyone is pulling in the same direction and can trustfully exchange ideas with each other.
As founder, managing director and former sole shareholder, you were the linchpin of the company. To what extent have your new partners managed to strengthen the second level management of HORN & COSIFAN to lighten the load in your daily work?
Preparing the new management is one of my main tasks. I am fortunate to be in the situation where I have worked closely with my management for more than 20 years, which makes the transition so much easier for me. My new partners are supporting me in this to the best of their ability.
One of your most prominent customers is Eintracht Frankfurt. Are such relationships also helpful in finding an investment partner?
Eintracht Frankfurt is a lighthouse customer for whom we run the entire IT infrastructure. Such reference customers were of course very beneficial in our M&A process, as they underline our competence and know-how and ensure trust on the investor side.
Why did you choose ox8 Corporate Finance as your M&A advisor?
How do you assess the cooperation?
In general, the chemistry simply must be right when choosing an M&A advisor, as it is one of the most challenging phases you can go through as a managing director or entrepreneur. Personally, I became aware of ox8 Corporate Finance via a recommendation. After our first meeting I just listened to my entrepreneurial gut feeling and to this day I have never regretted this decision. In addition, it is also absolutely necessary that the M&A advisor understands the business of my company, which was 100% the case with ox8 Corporate Finance.
For founders, M&A processes are usually very intense periods in their entrepreneurial careers. How did you feel about the process?
This is true in all respects – I really felt the M&A process was very intense. For me personally, two factors nevertheless made it bearable. The first was that I involved a HORN & COSIFAN colleague very early in the process, who gave me intensive support in preparing and executing the transaction. The second aspect was that I had an M&A advisor at my side who had a deep understanding of my company. Therefore, many inquiries during the due diligence process were handled directly by ox8.
What plans do you and your strategic partners have for the future?
As I mentioned earlier, we are currently looking for my successor – I would like to hand over the company into reliable hands so it continues to be managed in a sustainable manner. The main goal is to arrange the succession efficiently with a certain degree of flexibility. But there is no deadline, I will always be happy to advise and support HORN & COSIFAN.