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Mid Finance leaves Profinpar to join forces with Meilleurtaux

L’Echo, le 8 mars 2023. Michel Lauwers.

The Walloon credit broker will continue to grow within the French Meilleurtaux group, in its first international operation.

Walloon credit and insurance broker Mid Finance is leaving the Profinpar holding company to become part of the French Meilleurtaux group. Based in Fléron and founded by Michel David in 2007, Mid Finance offers consumer credit, mortgages and insurance. Last year, it posted sales of around €10 million, up 33%, and employs 34 people. It has doubled in size over the last three years.

Profinpar, a holding company for entrepreneur-investors, became the company’s largest shareholder in 2018. It supported the company’s growth for five years. It is now handing over to Meilleurtaux, which has a broader range of activities. Although the amount of the transaction has not been disclosed, the market is talking in terms of some €70 million. This is enough to generate a handsome capital gain for Profinpar and its founder, who remained a shareholder.

Meilleurtaux offers finance, insurance and investments to individuals. Its ambition is to become the benchmark marketplace in these areas “serving the French and their purchasing power”. Mid Finance is its first acquisition outside France. “This operation marks the first step in Meilleurtaux’s European development”, emphasises its chairman Guillaume Autier.

Founded in 1999, Meilleur Taux has been owned by the American investment fund Silver Lake since 2020. It owns 95% of the company, with the managers and directors sharing the remainder.


Five questions to Guillaume Autier, Chairman of Meilleurtaux

Why did you start your international expansion in Belgium?

We looked at different geographies with the idea of finding a player that was similar to us. Our decision was not to start in Belgium, but with Mid Finance, whose model is very similar to that of Meilleurtaux. Like us, Mid Finance has a presence in several business lines, with effective cross-selling across them. The company is also highly developed on the web, maintains in-depth professional relationships with numerous partners and deploys a phygital model (physical point of sale with a digital pathway, editor’s note). Mid Finance is very close to us.

Is this the start of your European career?

We’re quite opportunistic. We don’t want to make an acquisition in Germany or Spain at any price, but if we identify a player that looks like us and with whom we can generate synergies, and that we can also do something for with our platform and our data know-how, we can seize this opportunity. We have the time and the capacity.

Does “capacity” refer to Silver Lake, your shareholder for the past three years?

Of course, that’s one of the elements. Mid Finance is our third acquisition since the fund became a shareholder. We bought two French players in 2021, Active Assurance and, with the support of our shareholder. For Mid Finance, this will not be necessary, as we will be financing the operation from our own funds.

What does Meilleurtaux represent in terms of jobs and revenue?

Some 2,500 people work for us in France, including those who operate on our behalf via a network of franchised agents. These account for around half of our workforce. We have hubs in Paris, Reims, Lille, Le Mans, Le Havre and Aix-en-Provence, as well as 360 sales outlets (agents). We don’t publish our sales figures, but over the last six years we have recorded organic growth averaging 20% a year.

With your support, will Mid Finance be expanding into Flanders?

Yes, that’s one of the growth drivers we’ve identified. We still need to define a brand strategy for this market. Mid Finance’s other levers for growth will be the pursuit of the business model with vertical lines of business, optimisation of the customer journey and synergies with Meilleurtaux’s technology platform and data tools.

Castingpar gives itself the means to supply Safran and Airbus

L’Echo, le 13 décembre 2022. Michel Lauwers.

The Walloon precision foundry raises €5 million to finance growth with a strong focus on the aerospace industry.

Orders from the aerospace sector are pouring in for the Walloon group Castingpar, which operates two high-precision foundries, Settas in Charleroi and Précimétal in Seneffe. In particular, it will be supplying Safran Aerobooster with titanium parts for the manufacture of LEAP engine compressors for the A320 Neo and Boeing 737 Max aircraft. It has also signed direct orders for Airbus: again in titanium, these parts will be used to assemble jet engine pylons in Toulouse for the A320 and A350. Both orders will be supplied by Settas, Castingpar’s subsidiary specialising in the manufacture of titanium parts.

Titanium is a metal with properties that are highly valued by the aerospace industry,” stresses CEO Philippe Hoste. “It is very light, does not corrode and offers an attractive cost/benefit ratio. It will also be used in new-generation engines, including electric models.

Castingpar has just raised €5 million in shares and loans.

These are long-cycle markets: it takes around nine to twelve months from signature to delivery. That’s why producers like Castingpar need substantial working capital. The group has just raised some €5 million, in shares and debt. Existing shareholders have subscribed to the capital increase, as has a new partner in the form of SRIW. Although the shares held by each party remain confidential, it is known that the Walloon public holding company will hold 8.5% of Castingpar’s capital after the operation. The other shareholders are, as a reminder, the French fund Ciclad, the Belgian fund Profinpar and the Anglo-American fund Adaxtra Capital, as well as the management.

“These resources will enable us to finance our future working capital requirements, as we are expecting significant growth, particularly at Settas,” explained Philippe Hoste, after a tour of the foundry’s facilities by Walloon Economy Minister Willy Borsus on Tuesday.

80 new jobs

On the strength of these new orders, the group expects to double its sales by 2025 to around €40 million. At the same time, it is expected to take on 80 new staff (20 have already been recruited this year), bringing its total workforce from 220 at the end of last year to 300 by the end of 2025.

Of course, there are still a few challenges along the way, and not the least. Energy and raw material prices are still rising sharply,” points out Philippe Hoste. Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine and the embargo on Russia, titanium prices have soared – Russia accounts for around 50% of the world’s production of this metal. We hope that in the medium term, these prices will return to reasonable levels. This will no doubt depend on the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine.”

Energy prices alone already pose a tricky competitive problem. On the markets, Castingpar is up against American competitors, among others, who currently enjoy much lower prices for gas, oil and electricity.

We have the know-how, the markets and the potential, and we didn’t make any redundancies during the pandemic crisis,” sums up the CEO. But we have this challenge ahead of us, plus that of wage costs, with 8% indexation this year, plus next January’s.” Who said that entrepreneurship was a long, quiet river?


Nexum Group and CMC Partnership Global join forces, 10 November 2022

We are pleased to announce that Nexum Group has acquired 100% of the shareholding in CMC Global Group ltd to form a new joint organisation.

This venture will bring together Proci’s two highest performing Affiliates. The company will continue to provide change management training, support, and consultancy services, helping individuals and client organisations build effective change capability.

Caroline Mørck Jensen, CEO of Nexum, speaks of the natural partnership between the two organisations:
“As major Prosci partners, Nexum and CMC have been in dialogue for many years, and we realised we were both keen to work together in a closer way. So, this acquisition is a natural next step in our relationship. By joining forces, we are in an even stronger position to serve our local and global clients, leveraging on the talents and working practices of two exceptional organisations.”

Nexum and CMC will operate throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. As a result, client organisations can look forward to a greater breadth of training, service, and support, across a wider geographical spread and in more languages.

Continuing our strong partnership with Prosci, Nexum and CMC Global will deliver Prosci change management training and related consultancy services in the following territories: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, South Africa, Tunisia and, UK.

With a combined staff of over 100 people, the merged organisations now bring even greater strength and commitment to existing and new clients in developing their capacity for individual and organisational change.

Michael Campbell, CMC Global’s Managing Director, speaks about the opportunities for clients and customers globally in this exciting new venture:

“After 22 years, operating as CMC, we are excited to join forces with Europe’s leading Prosci partner Nexum Group, to accelerate our joint growth. I believe that together, in this period of economic uncertainty, we can realise the vision of being able to serve better the individual and organisational change requirements of more customers in more countries, languages and cultures.”

Mark Dorsett, Chief Global Officer of Prosci, speaks of the long-lasting partnership with the two organisations:
“At Prosci, we look for partners who are committed to helping customers achieve change success. Nexum Group and CMC Partnership Global have demonstrated this for many years and have been strong members of our partner community. We congratulate them on coming together and wish them the best as they go forward as one team. We continue to look forward to working with them.”

Belgian barriers against terrorism

Trends-Tendances, le 20 janvier 2022. Frédéric Brabant.

Already active in more than 40 countries, Pitagone has developed an innovative safety system for stopping ram lorries. We take a closer look at a Brussels-based company that will also be providing security for spectators at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

What do the Elysée Palace, the Tokyo Olympics, Barcelona’s Ramblas and the British royal family have in common? They all have a Belgian guardian angel. Or to be more precise, security barriers manufactured in Brussels, with a mobile system that is unique in the world.

lire la suite


First French investment for Profinpar

L’Echo, le 8 décembre 2021. Michel Lauwers.

The Belgian fund has decided to invest in the future of cosmetics company Remanence alongside Polexandre Joly, a serial French investor.

After making its first investment in a scale-up (Pitagone) just over a month ago, Profinpar has just made its first investment in France. The fund set up by 45 Belgian investor-entrepreneurs to support growing SMEs has participated in the acquisition of Remanence, an SME based in Lille which develops and markets cosmetic products (skin and hair care) as well as food supplements.

This is the tenth investment by Profinpar, a fund which invests between €1 and €6 million in SMEs or family businesses using an entrepreneurial strategy: as well as providing capital, it offers expertise to each of its targets by drawing on the skills of the 45 investor-entrepreneurs who helped to set it up.

The Remanence deal differs from other deals carried out by the Belgian fund in that it intervened in support of, and at the request of, a French serial investor who bought the Lille-based company. Polexandre Joly has already built up quite a CV by launching or developing various businesses in fintech, sales outsourcing and SaaS software.

When he set his sights on Remanence earlier this year, he looked for a financial partner to support him. He really liked our entrepreneurial model,” explains Dimitri de Failly, one of Profinpar’s partners, who describes Polalexandre Joly as “a person bursting with energy and good ideas”. As for Polexandre Joly, he found at Profinpar “an entrepreneurial approach consolidated by proven field experience in various sectors”.

So together, Polexandre Joly, a few partners and Profinpar bought Beyond, the holding company controlling Remanence. The Belgian fund subscribed to just over 40% of the capital for just under €2 million.

Remanence operates a range of cosmetics under five of its own brands (Institut Claude Bell, Moea, Nayana, Imperial Beard and Etern’l) and also designs products for third parties (white labels). It develops its own formulations, but uses the services of a subcontractor based in the south of France for manufacturing. With sales approaching €10 million, the company is already marketing its brands internationally, in particular through e-commerce.

The new owners, who have strengthened the company’s management team, have high hopes for the company’s further international expansion, with a focus on digitalization.


Profinpar invests in anti-terrorism barriers

L’Echo, le 10 novembre 2021. Michel Lauwers.

The investor-entrepreneur fund has acquired a stake in Pitagone, a Brussels-based scale-up that innovates in perimeter protection.

Profinpar, the fund set up by 45 Belgian investor-entrepreneurs to support growing SMEs, has just made its first investment in a scale-up. And it’s the Brussels-based company Pitagone that has benefited from this minority stake. Founded in 2016 by Marc Weissberg and Simon Bretholz, this young company specialises in threat management and more specifically in the production and provision of modular anti-vehicle ram barriers, i.e. anti-terrorism. It has patented its system and has already succeeded in exporting it to prestigious destinations such as the Élysée Palace and Buckingham Palace.

Pitagone has reinvented the approach around a product that has already been around for twenty years,” explains Thomas Walgraffe, partner at Profinpar. Its mobile barriers can tip over and anchor themselves in the concrete as soon as they are hit by a vehicle. Compared with existing products such as concrete blocks or bollards, it’s a much easier alternative to transport and move.”

The company subcontracts the manufacture of its barriers in Flanders and their assembly to Travie, an adapted work company based in Anderlecht. In terms of marketing, it uses a network of distributors. The company has placed a great deal of emphasis on certification, and has been successful in obtaining this precious seal of approval from the German police, among others. Pitagone has already exported its product to 45 countries, with some excellent references in terms of protected perimeters, including the Élysée Palace, Buckingham Palace, Olympic Games sites in Tokyo and the Euro football final…

Pitagone generates sales of some €2 million and has big ambitions for growth. It would like to do more in the German market and the Middle East. Profinpar’s arrival at the table means that, for the time being, four new directors have been appointed, two from within the holding company and two from outside. This company deserves our attention,” comments Thomas Walgraffe. It now has a real board of directors and good governance. During the height of the pandemic crisis, its market was in the doldrums, but it’s now picking up again. Major events are reopening just about everywhere, which require protection.”

“During most of the pandemic crisis, the market was at a low point, but it is now picking up again. Major events are reopening just about everywhere, requiring protection.” THOMAS WALGRAFFE PARTNER, PROFINPAR

As for the scale-up dimension, this was new for Profinpar: “Our specifications didn’t allow us to invest in it, but we were seeing some very good projects come through”, explains the partner. They changed that and Pitagone was the first.

Profinpar focuses on electric bikes with Barracuda

L’Echo, le 8 octobre 2021. Michel Lauwers.

Profinpar has acquired a majority stake in The Barracuda Company, a company that operates two brands of shops specialising in electric bikes, Barracuda and The Belgian fund, launched by 45 investor-entrepreneurs to support the development of SMEs and family businesses, never discloses the amounts invested, but we do know that it injects between €1 and €6 million per equity investment. It takes both minority and majority stakes; in the case of The Barrracuda Company, it subscribed for 70% of the capital while leaving the reins of the company to its founder and CEO, Frédéric Verbeeck. Two of the fund’s retail entrepreneurs have been appointed to support the company in the future: Denis Knoops, ex-CEO of Delhaize, and Thierry Quertinmont (GIB, Trafic).

Today, with its 5 shops and website, The Barracuda Company is the only exclusively electric bicycle retailer in Wallonia and Brussels. In Flanders, where it does not yet have a presence, there are competitors with a similar positioning. “We are already the reference and leader in the south of the country”, emphasises Frédéric Verbeeck, who makes no secret of his ambition to become the leader in Belgium too. His company will be opening a sixth shop in two months’ time in Zemst, between Brussels and Mechelen.

Phygital” model

At the same time, it is introducing a hybrid distribution model, which its boss has dubbed “Phygital”, for “physical and digital”. A large proportion of our customers are over 65,” explains Frédéric Verbeeck. Not all of them are comfortable in bike shops, partly because they don’t know much about them and partly because they can’t always load their bike into their car. We suggest that they choose their bike on our website, pre-order it, and then we’ll deliver it to their home, giving them the chance to test it before buying and paying for it”.

The formula seems to be catching on, with a very high conversion rate into firm purchases. As a result, the company wants to extend the concept. “We will continue to open physical shops in Brussels and Walloon Brabant, but we will serve the rest of the Region via this hybrid system. And if the results are satisfactory, we’ll do the same thing in Flanders and France.”

After selling accessories, spare parts and classic bikes for years and developing a specialist website, Vé, Frédéric Verbeeck sold it four years ago to specialise in electric bikes. Today, he has no regrets about this strategic move. Last year, his company sold 4,000 bikes, generating sales of over €13 million. And this year, the only thing that is likely to prevent him from doing as well is supply problems.

As in other affected sectors, such as construction and automotive, this imbalance between supply and demand is likely to persist for another 18 months, while manufacturers adjust their capacities”, says Dimitri de Failly, partner at Profinpar. “We probably entered The Barracuda Company at the top of the wave,” he continues, “but it remains a fine sector with good fundamentals. We’re in the soft mobility sector, with a strong social role, and Frédéric and his team are passionate about what they do. They all have bicycle chain marks on their calves…”.

After an exceptional 2020, Dimitri de Failly is looking forward to a good 2021. And in the medium to long term, experts are predicting annual growth of 15 to 30%, he adds. On the ground, Frédéric Verbeeck is already preparing for the future. He has just obtained planning permission to build a 2,500 m2 logistics centre. “It will house storage, a bike assembly workshop, after-sales services, delivery organisation and the back office. All of which will support the hybrid model currently being implemented.


What future for my SME?

Octobre 2020. Profinpar.

It is generally accepted that many of our businesses are family-run SMEs owned by managers in their sixties and beyond. These managers, who are considering taking a step back, are obviously asking themselves questions about their future and that of their company, especially if their heirs (the “next generation”) are not available to take over. According to our experience and the statistics, it’s not often that you find a successor who is both competent and motivated.

Some business owners decide to sell their business outright and appoint a business transfer intermediary to find potential buyers.

Alongside these ‘classic’ cases of outright sale, there are many more complex situations where the business is not in an optimal position to be sold, or where the owners are considering selling the business over time or in several phases.

The purpose of this contribution is to illustrate a number of such situations already implemented by PROFINPAR. These cases have been inspired by real-life situations and are therefore based on experience. The creation of asset value for SME shareholders is a subject that is often neglected.

Discover our thoughts on this subject in a note describing the criteria and conditions for success.

Version complète en format PDF

Version synthétique en format Powerpoint

UNICA, in search of growth

Trends, avril 2020, GUY VAN DEN NOORTGATE


Founded in 1932, Unica designs and manufactures industrial washer extractors, which it exports worldwide. The Brussels-based company was taken over a year ago by Grégoire De Donnea, with the support of the Profinpar entrepreneurs’ fund, who intends to develop it further.

Contrary to an increasingly widespread idea, industry has not completely deserted our country. A large number of SMEs, many of them family-owned, are still active in a wide range of fields, where they are making a name for themselves on the international stage, displaying a “Made in Belgium” image that is much appreciated beyond our borders. Such is the case with Unica, a company founded in Brussels in 1932, which only left the Sainte-Catherine district where it was based at the dawn of the 2000s. Today, medium- and large-capacity industrial washer extractors are designed, manufactured and assembled in Merchtem in Flemish Brabant. The company employs around twenty people and generates sales of between €4 and €5 million. It exports more than 95% of its production, and is present in over fifty countries. Its main markets are France, the UK and Saudi Arabia.


With the baby-boom generation coming to an end, many family-run SMEs are in need of a new owner. But you still have to find the “right” buyer… And that’s often where the problem lies, more so than the financing. After all, it’s not enough just to provide the funds; you also need to have the shoulders, the skills and the vision to take over a business. And, above all, the desire. A profile that is not so easy to find. With Grégoire De Donnea, it seems that the Profinpar entrepreneurial fund has made the right choice. In February 2019, this management science graduate from UCLouvain became CEO of Unica, in which Xavier Degrave, son of the founder, retains a stake. It’s thanks to Xavier that the company has grown in recent years,” he says. He knows every aspect of the company and its machinery. His experience is invaluable to us in more ways than one.

For his part, Grégoire De Donnea has worked for multinationals such as L’Oréal and Electrolux, where he held a variety of sales and marketing positions. In 2013, he took over responsibility for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the ‘refrigeration’ category at Electrolux’s Italian R&D and production site. It was a role that gave him a good understanding of how a factory operated, and one that serves him well today. From 2015, he was Managing Director BeLux of the Teka-Kuppersbusch group, before leaving in 2018 in search of a company to take over. That’s when his path crossed, via an e-mail, with that of Profinpar. This fund, which brings together entrepreneurs, invests venture capital in undercapitalised companies, with an approach centred on active partnerships with family SMEs and their shareholders. The aim is to finance development and growth. It’s a strategy that fits in perfectly with that of Grégoire De Donnea, and one that appealed to Xavier Degrave. “It was Profinpar’s industrial approach, reflected in the entrepreneurial added value of its staff, that convinced me to put my trust in them to continue developing our family business,” he says.


We offer a range of 17 machines with capacities ranging from 45 to 300 kg,” explains Grégoire De Donnea. We concentrate mainly on high-capacity machines for industrial laundries, which represent the bulk of our customer base. These machines are also used by institutions such as hospitals, hotels and homes. But they can also be found on cruise ships that can accommodate thousands of passengers. Unica machines are renowned for their robustness, and are particularly well suited to customers who cannot tolerate a breakdown in their production equipment. It is the reliability and longevity of our machines that enable us to make the difference in the market. Another of the company’s immense strengths is “the technicians who make it up,” continues the CEO. They are the ones who assemble the machines, but they are also the ones who install them on the customer’s premises, explain how they work and train them to use them properly. We have the advantage of having multilingual staff, which is an undeniable asset when it comes to exporting.

Since his arrival at the head of Unica, Grégoire De Donnea has sought to modernise the products while retaining their DNA and that of the company. The logo has been given a facelift, a new, more user-friendly website has been launched and the company is communicating more, particularly in the trade press. A production manager also joined the team last June. At the same time, the company is looking at digitalising its machines with solutions linked to the Internet of Things. The idea is to be able, to a certain extent, to provide predictive maintenance for our machines,” explains the CEO. Now, we have to bear in mind that everything the machine doesn’t say is just as important as what it does say. By training our customers ourselves, we can already solve the vast majority of problems over the telephone.


Like most industrial SMEs, all affected to some extent by the Covid-19 crisis, Unica was still idling in mid-April. But its teams were finalising the assembly of several machines. Before the crisis hit, the order book was full. The company has a fairly long sales cycle, so it still has work to do for the time being. But the impact will probably be more marked later in the year. Unica’s visibility in the second half of the year is therefore still rather hazy. Especially as most of its customers have announced that they have postponed their investments indefinitely.

While waiting for its activities to return to normal once the global economy picks up again, Unica has decided to offer its machines and services to the healthcare sector. The company manufactures washer extractors specifically for the medical sector. Unlike conventional machines, they are equipped with two doors: a front loading door for contaminated linen and a rear door for unloading in a decontaminated area. The company intends to offer them for hire to hospitals that need them. “We will take care of transporting, installing and commissioning these machines. They are available immediately”, concludes Grégoire De Donnea.