Interim firm EIFFEL eyes next growth phase with private equity backing

10 July 2018 4 min. read

Dutch investment company Gilde Equity Management has taken a majority stake in EIFFEL, one of the larger professional services firms in the Netherlands, with the aim of accelerating the firm's growth track.

EIFFEL specialises in consulting, interim and contracting services across three main areas: legal, finance and process. The firm's approximately 600 consultants and professionals work for clients in both the private and public sector.

With the participation of Gilde Equity Management, a mid-market player (deal focus between €15 to €150 million) with around €1 billion in assets under management, EIFFEL aims to embark on a new growth phase, says Monique Noomen-Greve, managing director of the firm. The lawyer has been with EIFFEL for nearly two decades now, and holds the position of managing director since 2006.

“With the participation of Gilde, we are laying a new, promising foundation to further strengthen our market position and the development of our people,” said Noomen-Greve. EIFFEL currently works for roughly 350 customer organisations, with Gilde seeking to ramp up the number in the coming years. "EIFFEL is solid and profitable, we see a lot of potential to become the niche player in solutions for legal, finance and process. That is why we are committed to the long-term strategy of EIFFEL and we will work together in the coming years to realise the growth ambitions.”

One factor which played a role in the transaction was the wish of the departing major shareholders to pass the baton to a new team. Ferdi van Dommelen, founder and one of the departing major shareholders, took the lead in the divestment process. After a career with Brunel, today one of the EIFFEL's main competitors in the country, he founded the firm in 1992. “After 26 years of growth and development, we were looking to put long-term succession in place,” he remarked.

Interim firm EIFFEL eyes next growth phase with private equity backing

With the move, Van Dommelen can look back with a smile on what he managed to build up from the ground. When establishing the firm, he aimed at building a “solid organisation. And an ingenious one. Hence the name EIFFEL.” The founder was inspired by Gustave Eiffel, a French architect who is known all over the world for his smart and solid constructions, with the Eiffel Tower in Paris naturally his most memorable work. To laude the Frenchman, EIFFEL installed staircase section 14 of the original Eiffel tower staircase in its lobby at its headquarter in Arnhem.

Solid financials

For Van Dommelen, the sale also means that he will consolidate his position as one the richest men in the Netherlands. The executive – he now serves as chairman of EIFFEL’s advisory board – was identified by Dutch magazine Quote as one of the Netherlands’ 500 most wealthy people a few years back, and although financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, he can now undoubtedly add millions to his wealth. The most recently filed annual report (2016) of EIFFEL shows that the consulting firm has been able to grow its revenue year on year since 2013, and that in this period bottom-line results were always profitable. As it stands, the firm generates revenues of around €50 million, up from €39 million in 2013. Net profit is around €3.6 million, which is according to analysts particularly high in relation to turnover.

Alongside the financial attractiveness of EIFFEL, Gilde stated in a press release that the firm is further impressed by the “vision, strategy and professionalism present at its latest portfolio addition. The investor also emphasises that it believes that EIFFEL’s “unique culture” must be maintained. Noomen-Greve acknowledges that at the other side of the table this was a key precondition for working together with an external investor. “For EIFFEL, it was a chief desire to find a new partner that retains and cultivates our unique identity, while facilitating and even accelerating growth.” 

About the choice for Gilde, she said, “Gilde has a successful track record as an investor and fully endorses our long-term vision and strategy. That was the deciding factor.” 

With its stake in EIFFEL, Gilde adds a renowned player in the Dutch consultancy and interim market. Last year, EIFFEL was named one of the best interim management firms in the country by managers, and from an employer's point of view, the firm was named one of the best employers in the consultancy category by a HR institute. The investor will be eyeing the same success as it achieved with Conclusion, another major professional services player in the Netherlands. Gilde took a stake in Conclusion in 2013, and exited three years later with a good return on investment.