‘Role of private equity increasingly important’ Hans Bogaardt, Eight Advisory’s partner

‘Role of private equity increasingly important’ Hans Bogaardt, Eight Advisory’s partner

The ambition of Eight Advisory is to become one of the lead advisors in the field of transaction support, transformations & restructuring.

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We see the name appear more and more often on subforms: Eight Advisory. The ambitious and fast-growing firm has an established reputation, especially in Francophone Europe, and is now expanding to the Netherlands. Hans Bogaardt explains what makes Eight Advisory so special. “We are unique in many ways, I would say. The company was founded in 2009 by eight senior partners who previously had an international role at major global consulting firms and decided to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. Today, we are one of the fastest growing independent European consulting firms with global ambitions, specialising in transactions, restructuring and transformations but also providing tax support in transactions as well as supporting companies and transactions with financial engineering specialists. We employ more than 720 people, including 82 partners in thirteen different offices in Europe, and work as one team, regardless of location.” You can also see this in the structure: “we have one profit and loss account for the whole of Europe. It doesn’t matter where turnover falls, as long as it falls.”

In Belgium, Eight Advisory has been part of the M&A Community for some time. “Belgium is already becoming an important location for us. In terms of team size, we match our direct competitors and take a prominent role in the Belgian transaction world. In the Netherlands, our ambition is just as great and we also want to become one of the leading advisors in the field of transaction support, transformations & restructuring. It’s a matter of humble beginnings: initially we focus on the sweet spot in the middle segment. At the lower end of the market you have parties that are on the somewhat smaller deals and the large cap deals are mainly done by the Big Four. Then you have a very large segment about what is in between and where we feel at our best. These are companies with around five to fifty million euros in EBITDA.”

Broad teams are deployed per case: “our unique approach is to offer companies a very pragmatic, tailor-made, multifunctional approach and a concrete solution to complex problems. We find concrete solutions for our clients, use an entrepreneurial spirit and always with a strong involvement of partners to guarantee the highest quality and remain excellent.”

The mentioned market segment is also exactly the place where private equity often adds value, a challenging sector where Bogaardt feels at home. “I’ve always had a great passion for private equity, as I’ve found that working in this sector is more challenging and faster, and my creativity comes in most handy when finding pragmatic solutions in situations where suboptimal data sets exist.”

Like the rest of the community, Eight Advisory notices that private equity is playing a growing role in the Dutch ecosystem: “That is a trend that has been going on for a long time. We are also seeing an increase in the number of funds and more and more capital is being raised. At the end of the day, one just sees that companies that have been owned by a PE fund do better than companies that haven’t.”

Bogaardt’s work in private equity has varied in recent years be. “There are more and more new themes. ESG, for example, is an important theme and special ESG-focused funds are being created. Now that so much capital is available, we also notice that the investment strategies are becoming broader: in addition to traditional leveraged buy-outs, there are more special situations investments. At a company that does not initially deserve the beauty prize, a creative solution and rolling up its sleeves can still achieve a return.”

Speaking of that creative side of PE entrepreneurship; Eight Advisory is happy to guide PE portfolio companies during their growth. “Take buy & build transactions, where several small acquisitions build a platform of fifteen or twenty million euros. If that platform then makes an exit, we can play a role in this, for example by doing the due diligence of the selling party. By taking the small transactions and staying put until the end of the ride, we can grow with the company and give our private equity client the best insights into the exit phase.”

Diverse teams


A remarkable trend in business services is that growth is sometimes not even a matter of acquisition, but of personnel policy. There is often enough work, but not enough capable staff to carry out the assignments, they also notice at Eight Advisory. The battle to bring in (young) talent is therefore fierce. What is the reason that a starting or experienced professional should come to Eight Advisory for coffee? “The composition of the team. We work with an international group of people. About 40 percent are Dutch, the rest come from all over the world. That also makes it fun for me personally. In London, a very international city, I learned to work with multicultural and diversified teams. That raises the quality level: with different insights and perspectives you get a dynamic team.”

This open culture helps to find starters: “for example, we have a great attraction for students who were educated in France and who want to gain experience in Amsterdam and find us attractive because of our international focus and reach.”

In addition, there is a great challenge for consultants who like to look for the more entrepreneurial side of the spectrum. “It’s a unique opportunity to be involved in building a new practice. We have the brand name and the infrastructure, but in the Netherlands we start from scratch. This gives us the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and to build a portfolio.”

Focus on cash


The opening of the Dutch office coincides with a turning economic tide. Bogaardt sketches a landscape with changing interest rates and geopolitical turmoil, with the delayed bill of coronavirus support now a major concern, especially for ‘zombie companies’ that were not doing very well before the crisis. “The transaction approach is becoming different and you also see more asset deals than share deals, where profitable business units are taken out and the debt is left behind. For example, we help our customers with a short-term cash flow review: what do the next thirteen weeks look like? The focus on cash becomes more important.”

Such circumstances require acuity from both client and advisor: “it is an opportunity for us to offer more of a holistic approach in addition to due diligence by having strategy and operations assist: what can you do in the business processes, in the logistics chains, what about working capital optimization and what can we do better in that area?”

For Bogaardt, it’s not the first time he has had to deal with a more challenging climate. “I had a pretty broad background and different cycles. 2008 was a good example, after the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. The transaction market fell to zero. At that time, as an office in flux, we had to move from transactions to restructuring: that combination was very interesting and that knowledge comes in handy again now.”

Hans Bogaardt contributes to the development of the Dutch activity of Eight Advisory. He is an experienced advisor with a long track record at home and abroad. ‘After studying business economics and then the post-graduate accountancy course, I started my career in internal audit, from where I later moved to EY’s external audit department. After four years, I was approached by the head of the department asking if I was interested in joining of our transaction advisory team, which seemed a bit abstract to me at the time. When I learned more about it and understood that I had the opportunity to be part of the top team at EY, I was naturally excited and interested to learn more and pursue a career in this field. After 2.5 years in our transaction services team, during which I gained knowledge of the buy-side and sell-side of financial products and due diligence on refinancings, I was offered an internship opportunity in EY’s Transaction Services practice of New York, which had started my international M&A career. During this period I had the great opportunity to work in New York and London as well as in the German market.’

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