Interview



Interview of Mr Jean-Marie Catabelle, Board Member of Transeo and Honorary Chairman of CRA

In 2014, Transeo BOD Member "CRA" piloted the Transeo "awareness-raising working group", aiming at the identification of good practices to efficiently raise awareness among business owners about change of ownership. As a reminder, please find the main conclusions here.

Dear Mr Catabelle, can you please explain us the background?

TRANSEO and CRA can be very satisfied that many recommendations presented in our final report “AWARENESS RAISING OF THE SELLER” (February 2014) have just been implemented in France.

How did it happen?

Taking advantage of a French Governement program called “Les Assises de l'Entrepreneuriat”, launched by the French President François Hollande, at the beginning of 2013, I could introduce, as CRA Chairman, during the meetings between the Governement and national actors in the field of enterprises, the ideas that SME Business Transfers were a significative factor of business and economic development. I pushed arguments in areas such as identify potential sellers, catch the attention of potential sellers, prepare their mind about business transfer, prepare their business for sale. I also pushed the same type of arguments to help potential buyers of SME’s.

Then the government , wanting to favor young people in the economic world, launched at the beginning of 2014 a new project called “Les Assises de l’Entrepreneuriat, version 2”. I was asked by the SME’s Minister at that time , Fleur Pellerin, to co-chair  a working group with the objective of improving the possibilities of SME’s Transfers among young entrepreneurs, young being up to 45 years old.

After four meetings with 20 experts in the field of SME’s transfers, and more than 25 interviews of various actors in this environment ( CCI’s, accountants, bankers, business angels, intermediaries, brokers, mentors…), we could present to the Minister of SME’s (Carole Delga) 7 measures and 40 detailed recommendations (Assises de l’Entrepreneuriat 2014, propositions du groupe de travail n°3 : “Faire des Jeunes des acteurs majeurs de la reprise d’entreprise”, et plus généralement  “Faciliter la transmission/reprise de TPE/PME en France”, 4/07/2014).

Which measures were proposed?

These proposed measures are :
  • organize a central coordinating organization (a public “one stop shop”), officially appointed by the ministries of Economy and SME’s : AFE (Agence France Entrepreneur) created in 2016.
  • build a network of professional  in business transfers, recognized by all French actors, labeled as ethical : a new association called “Transmettre et Reprendre” was created to coordinate institutional actors such as CCI’s, lawyers, accountants, notaries, BPI (national bank for investments).
  • organize a trustworthy host organization that coordinates the transfer data bases: AFE (Agence France Entrepreneur) with BPI (Banque Publique d’Investissement).
  • finance national and regional communication campaigns in France to raise awareness among potential sellers and buyers.

Finally our proposals were part of a list of governmental and congress measures, lead by the Ministers of Finance, Economy, and SME’s : Emmanuel Macron, Michel Sapin, Martine Pinville, and congress representative Fanny Dombre Coste, proposals which are being implemented now. ( “Favoriser la Transmission d’Entreprises en France : Diagnostic et Propositions”, report presented july 7th, 2015, upon request from the Prime Minister Manuel Vals).

Four domains of actions have been organized in 2016 :
  • Messages and communications : Raise awareness of potential sellers and potential buyers (national campaign financed by the government)
  • Administrative simplification in the SME’s Transfer field: I have been member of this group and reporter.
  • Training of potential buyers
  • Network organization in regions: Establishment of a chart of mentoring - Implementation of methodologies during the various phases of transfer (sellers and buyers) - Identifying of potential sellers and buyers

A national board for piloting SME’s Transfer methodologies in France , and to follow the above mentioned actions has been created in November 2015 : this board is lead by the ministers and CRA is a member (Christian Morel and myself).

What lessons can we learn then?

In conclusion, at Transeo, we can be proud that the reflections and proposals issued in our final report “awareness-raising of the seller” were valid enough to lead to a similar program in France, in order to facilitate and improve SME’s Transfers.  It took time, but this is democracy.


Thank you Mr Catabelle.