Planned Institute for Company Succession at HHL could take a key position in Saxony
Each year just in Saxony alone, more than 1,100 companies need a new chief executive for age-related reasons. According to the study “Unternehmensnachfolge Sachsen” (“Company Succession in Saxony”) by HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, companies in this federal state do not pursue a solution within the family as often, in opposition to national trends.
An alarming fact: The study found that only 22 percent of the entrepreneurs have a succession plan for this scenario. The question for the second “Company Succession in Saxony” panel discussion held at HHL on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, was therefore: Where are the successors? Impetus for the discussion between representatives from the economy, politics and science was provided by, among others, study director Jun.-Prof. Dr. Lahmann (Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe Junior Professorship in M&A of Small- and Midsized Entities), Martin Dulig (Saxon State Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor and Transportation), Hartmut Bunsen (President of the Saxon Association of Entrepreneurs), Kristian Kirpal (President of the Leipzig Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Manuel Hein (Olea Nachfolge GmbH) and Harald Rehberg (WMS – Wachstumsfonds Mittelstand Sachsen). The panel discussion was moderated by Peter Zimmermann (Westend Communication).
Challenge: communicating right
Based on the results of the first HHL panel discussion on this topic, according to which company succession in Saxony is not a problem of a lack of funding or potential successors, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Lahmann commented, “Nonetheless, we find that the partners fail to come together. We might be looking at a communication problem.” Minister for Economic Affairs Dulig indirectly confirmed this assumption, saying, “Communication is very important in this context. As many entrepreneurs think about their succession too late, their awareness for this matter must be increased.” When asked for specific measures, Minister Dulig said, “We have already launched programs such as the Saxon Action Days, which were initiated by the Saxon Ministry for Economic Affairs, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry as well as the Chambers of Crafts, and an online portal. We should not prepare parallel structures for company succession in Saxony, but rather efficient ones.
Hartmut Bunsen, President of the Saxon Association of Entrepreneurs, pointed out that succession is a matter to be resolved by the companies, not politics. At best, potential successors should be identified within company early on and prepared to take over the business. According to Bunsen, the challenge in Saxony is that a large number of small companies are looking for a successor. Kristian Kirpal, President of the Leipzig Chamber of Commerce and Industry, talked about the time line of successful succession, commenting, “The transfer process is not a sprint, but rather a long-distance run. Often, years pass by in finding a solution for all stakeholders – irrespective of the form of handover. Entrepreneurs have to deal with this topic on a long-term basis due its complexity. Therefore, our task is to raise awareness for it among entrepreneurs even more strongly and in a more targeted manner.
Push effect could wake up entrepreneurs
Manuel Hein of Olea Nachfolge GmbH also demanded a private sector solution, stating, “We need a neutral matching platform.” The Saxon Minister for Economic Affairs sees the chambers as being responsible because they are in direct contact with the companies’ representatives.
When the audience raised objections that there was insufficient awareness of consultation offers, Harald Rehberg, CEO of WMS – Wachstumsfonds Mittelstand Sachsen, referred to the planned Institute for Company Succession at HHL. According to Rehberg, Jun.-Prof. Dr. Lahmann impressively demonstrated how good contact can be established with companies in his study “Unternehmensnachfolge Sachsen” (“Company Succession in Saxony”). Minister Dulig emphasized, “When discussion the question of company succession in our state, specifically the scientific structure must not be disregarded. Science could also serve as a mediator between the transferor and the potential successor.”
We would like to thank S-Beteiligungen for supporting our event and enabling the evening.