Knowledge and expertise CapitalChange important in acquisition process HyGear

On September 22, 23 and 24, regional entrepreneurs can meet the sparring partners and investors of CapitalChange. These specialists in the field of growth, value creation, mergers and acquisitions advise and support companies with a growth ambition or the realization of an exit strategy. In addition, these partners also have the opportunity to invest. So a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs. We spoke with hydrogen pioneer HyGear from Arnhem, which CapitalChange has been working with intensively since 2016. Late last year, the company benefited greatly from CapitalChange’s knowledge and expertise, when the partners were able to assist in an acquisition by Canada’s Xebec Adsorption.

That HyGear is called a “hydrogen pioneer” is no exaggeration. The company was founded back in 2002 with the vision that hydrogen is the fuel of the future. In recent years, it has focused on making the hydrogen chain more efficient. HyGear has become strong in on-site production and delivery of hydrogen, especially for industry. “Since we made that move, we grew even faster. In 2016 we got to the point where a big American company wanted to acquire us,” says Marinus van Driel, CEO of HyGear and now president of Xebec Europe. He explains in what way CapitalChange provided support.

Through investment company Oost NL, HyGear came into contact with CapitalChange. “They were already doing a lot of advisory work around new participations and restructuring them. We noticed that we shouldn’t approach such a sales process on our own. We lacked knowledge and experience, including in the financial part. Albert Marseille then fulfilled a role on behalf of CapitalChange that resembles that of a process manager,” says Van Driel. “Or an M&A manager, like big companies have.”

Intensive collaboration

Marseille and Van Driel worked together intensively for about six months in 2016, but due to financing problems of the American company, the deal eventually fell through. However, the collaboration tasted like more. “We realized that financing had to become an important aspect in our business operations. We therefore wanted Albert to continue to advise us, as a sparring partner in a field we did not know everything about ourselves. From that moment on, he first helped buy out a previous Spanish financier. After that, he supported, among other things, the issuance of shares, the marketing of bonds and many other issues related to financing. I also ask his opinion on other topics. His fresh perspective on a business plan, for example, really adds something. The same applies, by the way, to Martin Adler, now also of CapitalChange, who sat on our Supervisory Board.”

Marseille also ultimately played an important role in the acquisition by Xebec. “He sat next to me, from the first mail from Canada to the signing. You have all kinds of stages in such a process, even before you finally start looking at the contracts with lawyers. We discussed the opportunities this presented and all the steps we needed to take. He was also present at the negotiation meetings. It was very nice that he also thought about the less tangible issues for me as a DGA [director-major shareholder]. What will my new role be? What do I need to pay attention to personally?”

Strong commitment

After the acquisition, Marseille’s roles, as well as Adler’s, naturally diminished. “But they both still call often,” Van Driel says. That involvement characterizes the collaboration so far: “We can still fall back on them. Albert was just always there when we needed him, sometimes with support from his colleagues. We even called each other on Boxing Day. The guys from CapitalChange are much more than advisors.”

Marseille himself looks back on the process with pride. “The collaboration was very special and intensive. It was a unique process and it feels good that we were able to contribute to it. The collaboration with HyGear, with Marinus as a person, and also with Oost NL is really a textbook example of how something like this should go. We share knowledge and expertise from different disciplines, with respect for each other’s vision, insight and ideas, focused on a common goal.”

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