Mr. Hraschan, what prompted you to sell your company, Austroflex GmbH, in 2008?
Jakob Hraschan: During the previous years, I had started a second corporate project alongside Austroflex, which took up more and more of my time. At the same time, the US company Watts Industries, actually a competitor, had shown interest in buying Austroflex. As an attentive entrepreneur, I was not opposed to the sale and wanted to examine the possibilities. That was the critical point in contacting Florian Koschat at Pallas Capital. I knew that he would accompany such international deals. Also, we have known each other for a long time and maintain an excellent basis of trust.
Pallas Capital has accompanied you from the very beginning …
Precisely because our prospective customer was a large corporation with worldwide branches that buys one or two companies per year, we wanted to get competent support right from the start. After all, selling an involved company was something entirely new for us. Also, the negotiations had to be conducted in English. The support of Pallas Capital was enormously important here. Florian Koschat has already done business all over the world. He also always found the right words in our negotiations and negotiated everything to our utmost satisfaction.
Hedging and risk minimization were at the forefront?
Pallas Capital provided us with excellent support in the sales process, clearly defined our negotiating position and minimized the risks. Everything was fixed in the contracts in such a way that I, as the seller, would not suffer any disadvantages, even in the event of possible problems after the takeover. Here not only legal and linguistic aspects had to be taken into account – human competence and tact were also of great importance.
What were other contract contents particularly crucial to you?
It was essential to me that the company as a whole remained in existence and that the employees could remain. The people that Watts Industries sent to us showed us in advance that they could also manage small units very responsibly and well. That made me feel confident. The fact that the place of jurisdiction must be Vienna was also an immovable cornerstone for sale. We would not have accepted anything else.
How did you feel about the sales process with all its highs and lows?
As a founder and owner, you have solid emotional ties with your company and therefore have a completely different view than the buyer. Lawyers and consultants come into the company and examine all areas. Differences can arise again and again. This makes it all the more important that someone keeps the mood positive and interprets the details correctly. Pallas Capital has fulfilled this role to the best of its ability – and has done so for over a year.
What convinced you about Pallas Capital?
The professionalism and personalities were decisive for me. Florian Koschat is one of the two principal owners of Pallas Capital and personally accompanied the whole deal. He was present at every meeting. Specialists, lawyers, and assistants were also there, but personal support was top class. You feel comfortable and well-advised when you have such partners.
Finally, a brief assessment of sales success …
Sales success was outstanding. We were able to implement our ideas and achieved a reasonable sales price. If you also consider that we had particularly tricky conditions in the years 2008 to 2010 with the economic crisis, you can say that our expectations were exceeded.