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For many of the entrepreneurs we support, the idea of valuing a family business is incongruous, if not impossible. Intellectually at least. Because how can you put a price on this ‘other member of the family’ – a human adventure spanning and uniting many generations, shared values, representations of the past and the future, things that cannot be enshrined in figures but anchor the family, give it a sense of fulfilment, and provide a challenge professionally and within the family.

A subject often overlooked...

When the subject of a valuation (or not) is raised, lack of time is often cited, if not the cost. Truth to tell, it sometimes happens that coming up with a figure can whet appetites, arouse envy or expectations, or even in some cases, disappoint.

And many think that it is better to unite the family around an entrepreneurial project or intangible wealth, rather than a sum of money, large as it may be.

There is no doubt that the valuation can, unconsciously or not, provoke alienating reactions: a transfer (whether desired or unexpected), a dispute between shareholders, financial difficulties, or a problematic handover. These circumstances are all far removed from the ideal of permanence or continuity to which so many family businesses aspire.

... which testifies to the health of the business – and more

Family directors have a reputation, and more often than not a characteristic, of being realistic and pragmatic. But however vigilant they are about steering their financial resources or the consistency of the results they achieve, they sometimes forget the importance of that barometer of a business’s good health: growth in its value. Just like a regular check-up attesting to a person’s good health, monitoring the value of the business over time makes it possible to measure the effects of good health in its organisational and financial governance and take appropriate measures in time to change a particular trend if necessary.

Over and above the figures and what they say about the health of the business at a given moment, it is the method adopted to arrive at a value that, in our view, makes this a valuable exercise. From the SWOT analysis through to identifying the exceptional, from choosing a direction of travel based on the past or the future through to neutralising certain events, valuation opens up an unparalleled opportunity to take stock, to celebrate the value OF rather than just put a value ON everything that has been done by one – or several – generations.

A conference to highlight the relevance of valuing a business

Rather than it being a technical presentation or a dry guide on the specifics, we were keen to endorse the book "Comprendre la valorisation d'une PME" written (in French) by Laurent Muller, which explains the different stages in the valuation of an SME and the main principles governing it.

When the book was published last April, we wanted to give a voice to a panel of entrepreneurs sharing their experience of the process of valuing their business. At a dedicated conference, the participants had the opportunity to discuss the usefulness and opportunity of a valuation in different situations.

@blackmagictea

On 28 April 2022, the ‘Valuing an SME...how and why?’ conference featured a panel of entrepreneurs composed of Betty Fontaine, Managing Partner of Brasserie Simon, Tom Klein, Partner of Binsfeld & Bintener and Luc Wagner, Partner of WW+, alongside Laurent Muller of Muller & Associés and Anne Goedert, Charles Sunnen & Philippe Depoorter from Banque de Luxembourg.


To find out more about our support for businesses and our upcoming workshops and conferences, please contact Anne Goedert or Charles Sunnen.

Anne GoEdert
Family Practice Adviser
Charles Sunnen
Business Adviser

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