Argos Soditic buys majority stake in Dutch professional services group

15 January 2018 4 min. read

European private equity firm Argos Soditic has made its first investment in the Netherlands. The company’s majority stake in Future Groep, a professional services group with 800 employees, was supported by M&A advisors from twelve consultancies.

With offices in five countries, Argos Soditic is a pan-European player in the SME and lower segment of the mid-market, with the majority of its stakes and investments ranging between €10 million and €100 million. Since its founding in 1989, the private equity house has invested in more than 70 businesses based in among others Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Italy. 

The company’s entry into the Dutch market sees it take a majority stake in Future Groep, a Utrecht headquartered professional services firm that provides consulting, communication, resourcing and Business Process Outsourcing services to both public and private clients. The company operates with four stand-alone business units: Human Capital Group (HR consultancy), Future Communication (communications advisory), PLANgroep (debt management services), PLANgroep Financiëal Services (managed services for the financial services industry) and Talenter Business Services (services provider for the public sector). 

Accelerating Future’s growth

Future Groep was established in April 2016, when it was carved out from Conclusion. Founded in 1997, Conclusion at the time of the split had around 1.800 employees, of which circa 700 joined Future Group. The other part of Conclusion, which provides IT consulting services, today still operates under the Conclusion flag.

Argos Soditic buys majority stake in Dutch professional services group

Under the new ownership of Argos Soditic, Future Groep aims at lifting its growth to the next level – a development that excites Argos Soditic partner Gilles Mougenot. “Future Groep is a company whose success is based on an inclusive and innovative company culture. These elements in combination with the experience of the people on board convinced us of the potential that we can realise all together.” 

The investment sees Roelof Bijlsma, the co-founder and Conclusion and a shareholder of Future Groep (together with Dutch private equity house Gilde Equity Management) step down from his role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO)*. Under his direction the company managed to successfully nestle itself in the Dutch professional services landscape, and he also steered the company through strong growth of 25%. Today Future Groep has just under 900 professionals, nearly 200 more than when it launched. 

The switch of ownership and leadership comes at the right time, said Bijlsma. “After we decided to carve-out Future Groep from Conclusion, our organisation has grown substantially and has developed very well. Today we are a financially strong, healthy and a solid company with significant growth potential. For our next phase, Argos Soditic is, in our opinion, the best imaginable partner and shareholder. We are therefore pleased with the confidence and trust that Argos Soditic has in our organisation.” 

Bijlsma has meanwhile succeeded by Jeroen Ekkel, a leader with over twenty-five years of experience, of which fifteen have been in staffing and resourcing. Prior to joining as the new CEO, Ekkel was COO of Atlas Professionals, and previously he was COO Europe and CEO Netherlands at Brunel, a staffing agency. “We are happy to take this step together with Roelof Bijlsma, Jeroen Ekkel and a strong management team,” remarked the Frenchman Mougenot.

M&A advisors

The sale by Gilde and Bijlsma to Argos Soditic, including the management buy-in (MBI) of Ekkel, was supported by an army of external advisors. Buyer Argos Soditic received M&A and financial advisory from Nielen Schuman, PwC and Sincerius, with legal support coming from law firm Houthoff. Other advisors that advised on the deal on behalf of the private equity firm were services giant Aon, recruitment company Ebbinge, and tax advisor KC Legal. 

Sellers Gilde Equity Management and the other co-shareholders were supported by Deloitte (transaction support), MBCF (M&A advisory), JSA Tax Consultancy (tax advisory) and Simmons & Simmons (legal support). Stek provided legal advisory to Rabobank, which financed the transaction. 

* Bijlsma remains involved with Future Groep as a shareholder and non-executive Board Member.