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Max Matthiessen in talks to acquire as it pursues further expansion in Nordics, Europe – CEO

  • Hopes to enter one new market this year
  • Upper limit in SEK 2bn revenue companies

Swedish insurance broker and financial adviser Max Matthiessen is in talks with targets as it pursues further expansion across the Nordics and elsewhere in Europe, CEO Jacob Schlawitz told Mergermarket.

The Nordic Capital-backed company is in discussions with unnamed targets, including in Denmark where it is building a larger platform following its acquisitions there last year, Schlawitz said. “We are having conversations with a couple of very interesting companies in Denmark that we hope will lead us to the platform we want to have there.”

The company is interested in entrepreneur-led companies that have a good trajectory, and a culture that fits in with Max Matthiessen’s, he said. It does not have a specific size range for potential targets, but in terms of a market entry, a company should be of “significant” size, he noted. Its upper limit is in the range of SEK 1.5bn-SEK 2bn (EUR 133m-EUR 177m)-revenue companies, he said.

Max Matthiessen recorded close to SEK 2bn in FY23 revenue, Schlawitz said. He declined to share the company’s EBIT or EBITDA but said that they were “satisfactory”, especially in the context of the company’s development and investments to grow the business further. Max Matthiessen aims to double its revenue and EBIT over the next three to four years, he added.

Max Matthiessen, which is present in Sweden and Denmark, hopes to enter a new market either in the Nordics or elsewhere in Europe this year, but this will depend on available opportunities. “We are picky and take our time making sure we have found the right partner,” he said.

It could also explore acquisitions in Sweden, but thanks to its strong position there, the country is no longer a focus market for its M&A strategy, he said.

The company can also consider buying less than 100% of a company or forming a strategic partnership, he said.

The sector is under what Schlawitz described as “enormous regulatory pressure”, which is particularly felt by smaller players. Max Matthiessen has, therefore, decided to take the role of an active consolidator, as many smaller players would rather join a bigger group that is better equipped to respond to regulatory demands, he noted.

Max Matthiessen, which has an internal M&A team of five, spends a long time with a potential target to create a plan for growth. “We also have a large team that takes care of the post-deal integration. That is our superpower, we integrate well according to our five-step plan.”

The company uses advisers on sourcing and deal execution, and selects them depending on the market in which it is looking to buy, he said.

Acquisition financing depends on the size of the target, but so far Max Matthiessen has only used a “modest” amount of debt financing to pay for deals, he said. If the company was to land a target with around SEK 1.5bn in revenue, it could use debt facilities and financial support from Nordic Capital to top up its cash resources, he added.

Max Matthiessen, established in 1889, was acquired by Nordic Capital in 2020 from Willis Towers Watson (WTW) for an undisclosed sum. WTW had acquired a 75% stake in the business for USD 205m from Altor in 2014, as reported.

Since Nordic Capital bought the company, it has made 35 acquisitions in total, Schlawitz said.

Max Matthiessen’s main peer is Swedish, KKR [NYSE:KKR]-backed Soderberg & Partners, he said.

At the time of publication, Max Matthiessen had a Likely to Exit (LTE) score of 48 out of 100, according to Mergermarket’s predictive algorithm*, mostly driven by the rate of sponsor exits in the region. Soderberg & Partners’ LTE score was 51, also weighted by the rate of sponsor exits in the region.

Sector drivers

Key growth drivers for the sector include people’s increasing need for financial advice, Schlawitz said. Further, each individual’s needs are unique and therefore generic advice does not suffice, he said, adding that Max Matthiessen engages in 100,000 client meetings a year.

Max Matthiessen is also focused on guiding clients to more sustainable ways of investing as, while there is plenty of talk around sustainability, it is often ignored in investment decisions, he said.

On being asked about an exit by Nordic Capital from Max Matthiessen, Schlawitz said there are no concrete plans that he was aware of, and that he and the wider team are focused on building and developing the company.

Max Matthiessen offers strategic and ongoing advice for corporates and their employees regarding pension plans, insurance and benefits, in Sweden and internationally. It develops guidelines, policies and structures, and procures benefit packages on behalf of clients, per its website.

*Mergermarket’s Likely VC Exit predictive analytics assign a score to VC-backed companies to help track and predict when an exit could occur through M&A, an IPO, a direct listing or a deSPAC transaction.