Summary of this year's Nordic Buy Out Forum

On Wednesday 7 December, Wiersholm and the Norwegian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (NVCA) gathered the venture capital and private equity industry and others involved in the transaction market for the 6th Nordic Buy Out Forum.

More than 500 participant attended for knowledge sharing, discussions and networking. This year's program was divided into four topics; the Art of Deal-Making, Value Creation in the Digital Age, Investments in the Nordics and Market Developments and Trends.

The initiator and compère of the NBOF, Wiersholm partner Jarle Kvam, opened the conference with a brief overview of the transaction markets in the Nordic countries, Europe and USA.

The art of negotiation

The first topic, The Art of Deal-Making, was introduced by Harald Hellebust, partner at Wiersholm, who gave an insight into the lawyer's role in a negotiation, in addition to introducing this year's keynote speaker, Professor Guhan Subramanian from Harvard Business School. As one of the world's leading experts in the field of negotiations, he delivered an outstanding lecture on negotiation techniques and strategies.

Professor Subramanian referred to examples from everyday life to illustrate how often we find ourselves in negotiation situations. He made the audience aware of available strategies for obtaining one's goals, and presented a structure that could enhance the participants' skills as negotiators.

The topic of Professor Subramanian's lecture was "Negotiauctions", also the title of his much acclaimed book. The process of negotiation is, based on his experiences and research, often a mixture of the classical negotiation situation and an auction. During his lecture, he presented several striking examples which substantiated his view, and he also demonstrated how to use such situations to one's advantage.

The implications of the digital age

Part two concerned the digital development that pervades the markets and societies. The CEO of Visma, Øystein Moan, shared with us his unique knowledge on technology acquisitions. The requirements for Due Diligence have become stricter due to new and complex challenges. The next speaker in line was Frode Strand-Nielsen, founder and managing partner of FSN Capital. There is no doubt that innovations, change and development have great impact on the acquisition industry. The digital development creates unlimited possibilities which turn established business practices upside-down. Strand-Nielsen explained how the sharing economy works, using the cost budgets of the hotel chain Marriot and Airbnb as examples.

Analysis and investment strategy

With the third topic, the conference continued into an in-debt analysis of the investment situation in the PE industry. Jim Strand from Hamilton Lane described in detail the global development of the PE investments in recent years. Hamilton Lane is recognised as one of the most capable providers of analyses in the market, due to their global presence and expertise. Graeme Gunn from SL Capital Partners then continued with an external perspective on the Nordic region and his experience from other markets. Reynir Indahl from Summa Equity shared with us his insight and experience from Summa's investment strategies. Summa is investing in four megatrend markets. Indahl explained why and how, and as indicated by the title of his lecture, how to make investments in a volatile market characterised by low growth.

Looking forward

The fourth and final part of the day was devoted to future prospects. CEO Rikke Eckhoff Høvding presented a recent market analysis from Menon and EY (the main features of the market analysis) showing how active owners contribute to growth and value creation in Norway. This is an important message to communicate to all stakeholders, to ensure that the industry is provided with an adequate framework in order to remain and grow in Norway.

Harald Magnus Andreassen, chief economist at Swedbank, rounded off the day with a solid insight into the current and future economic reality. The past year has reminded us of how political situations can strongly influence the economic development. Overall, he described the economic outlook as moderately positive, albeit somewhat more vulnerable to political changes. He believes China's growth will make up for the US President Elect's promise of more protectionism in the world's largest economy.

Jarle Kvam took the opportunity to announce one of next year's topics, artificial intelligence, which is making technological quantum leaps almost on a daily basis, and thus creating a willingness to invest among market operators.

Wiersholm and NVCA wish to thank everyone for attending, and are grateful for the important cooperation of the keynote sponsors, Altor,BCG and Danske Bank. We are looking forward to inviting you to the NBOF 2017, and we are very proud and pleased to have established an arena for the entire Nordic transaction community.