Printing group Aprint Holding SAAurélie Bovigny, Senior Consultant, Business Broker AG

A real-life success story Printing group Aprint Holding SA

Aurélie Bovigny has worked at Business Broker SA since 2013 and has successfully helped to arrange succession processes for over 40 SMEs. In 2019, she oversaw the sale of the Aprint Holding SA printing group, based in Romandy. In the interview, she talks about the language divide and the relevance of interpersonal relationships.

Aurélie Bovigny, you assisted the previous owners of Aprint Holding SA with the sale of the company. Could you provide a brief overview of the company?

Aprint Holding SA is a well-known printing group from French-speaking Switzerland, which was owned by three individual shareholders until it was sold. The holding company controls three other companies, each of which specialises in a specific area. In addition to the provision of classic printing services, the business also manufactures packaging for the pharmaceutical and luxury industries, for example. The group has a total of around 70 employees.

Business Broker AG was given the task of arranging the sale of Aprint Holding SA in 2019. After just a relatively short time, we were able to draw the attention of a printing group based in German-speaking Switzerland, which operates in a similar but complementary market, to this attractive proposition. The takeover will now allow the new owners to optimally harness the many synergies.

What happened during the sales process?

Around 9 months passed from the time we took on the assignment until the sales agreement was signed. During this period, parallel discussions were conducted with three interested potential buyers. Due to the size of the transaction, it was primarily other companies in the printing industry looking for a strategic acquisition that were were interested in taking over ownership.

What were the greatest challenges from your perspective?

A particular aspect of this sale was that there were three shareholders selling the business, so three individual people with different expectations and views were involved in the process. It was therefore important for me to clarify the individual expectations with each of them right from the start, so that I could bring about consensus and thereby adequately represent the interests of the owners. Furthermore, the business for sale had a complex structure that consisted of a holding company with several subsidiaries.

A particular aspect of this sale was that there were three shareholders selling the business, so three individual people with different expectations and views were involved in the process.

Another challenge was the printing industry itself, which has undergone a transition in recent years and is in itself not as attractive as it used to be, both financially and in terms of future development. It was therefore all the more important to show how profitably Aprint could position itself in a niche market, and demonstrate the existence of excellent development opportunities.

The sale was ultimately made to a party from German-speaking Switzerland. Conducting negotiations across the language divide was particularly challenging. The differences between the French- and German-speaking areas are real! The language barrier was certainly an obstacle at first, both during the negotiations and later, when drafting the sale agreement. But after numerous discussions, both parties agreed that a merger was and is one thing above all, namely a great opportunity. The first national printing group in Switzerland was created.

Conducting negotiations across the language divide was particularly challenging.

To what extent did your many years of experience help you?

In order to successfully bring such a complex case to a successful conclusion, you need experience of the sale process. It is crucial to define the customer expectations and correctly assess the risks involved in the transaction. This can only be done if you have previously helped other SME owners navigate the sale process. Experience also helps speed up the identification of suitable candidates, thereby making the process more efficient. A large number of people were involved in the negotiations regarding the sale of Aprint Holding SA, as the buying party was also assisted by consultants. Especially during this delicate phase of the process, it was important that I could act as a neutral mediator between the parties. And of course your expertise increases as you gain more experience of transactions, and this automatically makes you more assertive and gives you a stronger hand when negotiating.

What was your impression of the seller and buyer parties? Was there a good connection right from the very start?

Looking back, I would say that the first meeting was very positive and that there was a good feeling of mutual trust between the seller and the buyer from the very start. In particular the main shareholder got on well with the buyer straight away, not only on a business level but also on a personal level. They were also on the same wavelength right from the start regarding their vision of the future of Aprint Holding AG. If the interpersonal relationships are good, the negotiations also tend to be much smoother.

If the interpersonal relationships are good, the negotiations also tend to be much smoother.

Share this artice