Business

A liquidity event, many family offices, and a global portfolio

One area of wealth and private investment office activity often little appreciated is linked to Germany’s Mittelstand companies. More of them were sold in the past 20 years, creating big fortunes funnelled into investment offices. A case in point is one linked to a liquidity event in 2001 for the family owners, giving rise to numerous investment offices and a global portfolio of assets. 

Haindl, or its official name, Haindl’sche Papierfabriken, was one of the biggest paper producers for newspapers and magazines in Europe before being sold in 2001 to a Finnish rival. It was also a classic Mittelstand, albeit on the bigger end of the scale, that had been under the Haindl family ownership for more than 150 years. In retrospect, the family owners probably feel they sold at a good time, given how the digital revolution is eroding the need for paper for newsprint. 

Whatever the case, they did pretty well, netting €3.6 billion from the sale. That led to the primary family representative at Haindl, Clemens Haindl, to set up an investment office under his name – Clemens Haindl Verwaltungs – in Munich. 

Clemens Haindl died in 2014, a few years after his sons – Philipp and Patrick – set up another investment office/holding group, Serafin Group. Since then, Serafin has bought numerous small and mid-sized businesses, mainly in Germany and other European countries. Based in Munich, Serafin also has an office in London. So it has a European mindset when acquiring assets. 

But perhaps the more interesting member of the Haindl family when it comes to the investment world is Thomas. Berlin-based Thomas Haindl appears to be from another wing of the family dynasty, but was a beneficiary of the sale of the family business – a pretty big beneficiary given his investments. 

He owns a real estate holding and development company in Berlin called CHE, but he also has an investment/management business in Germany, TH Verwaltungs, based in the same office as Clemens Haindl Verwaltungs. But he also owns Swiss holding and investment group HEB Swiss Investment. Set up in 2008, Zurich-based HEB appears to have done several private equity deals, including buying a large stake in Swiss-based Cicor Technologies, which it has since sold its shares a few months ago. 

According to local press reports, Thomas looks also connected to an investment group in Australia, which has just placed a big property up for sale in the northern state of Queensland.  Those sources say THF Finance is linked to a German family but didn’t name them. Our research suggests Thomas Haindl could own THF Finance, given that one of its senior directors was Heinrich Essing, a long-term associate of Thomas Haindl. 

Essing, who died last year, seems to have been a classic consigliere to the Haindl family, or at least to Thomas. He had worked with Thomas’s real estate businesses in Berlin and took over from Thomas’s chairmanship of Cicor in 2015. It might be a complete coincidence, but Thomas appears to be selling off some of his holdings linked to Essing since his death. 

Of course, all this might be purely academic, but it shows how the owners of Germany’s classic Mittelstand businesses are diversifying their wealth after the relationship with the original operational company is cut or lessened. Moreover, in the years ahead, this trend only will accelerate. 

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