TPW: The Equistone partnership is still fresh – but what were your first impressions?
RE: Prior to the transaction, I spoke to a lot of different private equity parties, but my first meeting with Equistone stood out. It was with Hubert van Wolfswinkel and Josh Aalbers, then subsequently I met Tanja Berg. It felt like we clicked well from the get-go; we had similar mindsets, values and cultures. The Equistone team made it clear they respected me and my role as CEO in running the business. They were positive about how we could achieve our big ambitions – namely international expansion, through a buy-and-build strategy. It was immediately clear the Equistone Funds had the right expertise to support us on this given Equistone’s relevant portfolio company experience.
TPW: What if you don’t align on BUKO’s future goals?
RE: Actually, that already happened during a very early discussion, and I appreciated Equistone’s candid advice. I believed initially we should focus on two countries when it comes to international expansion: Belgium and Germany; with Equistone being sceptical about BUKO’s business crossing into Belgium. This was based on knowledge Equistone had from a portfolio company in the utilities sector – indicating that the growth opportunity may not be as advantageous there.
TPW: Growth through M&A, buy-and-build – what are the next steps?
RE: We are well positioned to grow along with the market and we are planning to double revenues in the next few years. With regards to M&A, we have a domestic wish list! Not so long ago we were the underdog in the Netherlands when it comes to temporary traffic management and our strategy has led us to become the market leader, by far. We are also looking to succeed in Germany, not least because of the optical fibre and energy transition. Approximately 10 million households in Germany will need fibre connections in the next four years.
TPW: Do you have any concerns about integrating businesses?
RE: I believe in our business model and our culture. We have high customer and employee satisfaction – with a very low churn rate. As long as we stand by our principles, allowing a little flexibility during transition periods, I absolutely know we can continue the ethos of our healthy, happy company, as it grows into something bigger.” ☐
A full version of this article appeared in PLATFORM 09, Summer 2023