CorporateJanuary 28, 2019

Pieter Roeloffs, SVP M&A: “We support our organic growth strategy with value-enhancing acquisitions”

The expert solutions provided by Wolters Kluwer combine extensive knowledge, specialized technology, and service, which leads to better results, analyses, and productivity for the client.

This requires a sophisticated M&A policy in which strategy plays the key role. According to Pieter Roeloffs, Senior Vice President, Mergers and Acquisitions EMEA, M&A is not a goal in itself.

The transition from print to digital has happened at breakneck speed. “In 2003, 31% of our applications were in digital format,” recalls Roeloffs. “ We’re now at 76% (FYR 2017). The world has changed and continues to do so. And we are changing with it. We provide our clients with expert solutions. They act using our advice, our products, our professional information, our software solutions and services for professionals in healthcare, accountancy, risk management and compliance, in the financial, fiscal, and legal sectors. We help them, and that's what's it's all about.”

Roeloffs’ task requires a sophisticated M&A policy, and strategy plays a key role. The business strategy is what characterizes Wolters Kluwers’ M&A policy, with innovation as a key element -eight to 10 percent of the annual revenues are consistently spent on new and enhanced products. “We have been doing this since 2003 in the years of plenty and in lean years,” says Pieter Roeloffs. “Based on the current revenues, that amounts to about 300-400 million euros. But it's essential if you are and want to remain the leading global player in this branch and innovation is supported by these purchase deals and sales deals.”

Roeloffs and his team have historically spent annually 200-300 million euros. The “constant factor” also applies here. “We often do a few smaller acquisitions which we then integrate into existing activities. The one thing we don't do is change the entire company with one mega deal. In the end it's always about whether an acquisition adds to solving daily issues faced by our clients, the type of content information, and the possibilities for global application. We always focus on mobility, data, and content. We are incredibly disciplined in this respect.”

Strategic sessions are held between the Executive Board, the strategy team, and the M&A team about the latest developments in software technology. “Technological developments happen at lightning speed and are incredibly advanced,” says Roeloffs. “But we're looking for applications to make these developments usable in practice. We already have a great deal in the field of artificial intelligence, such as helpdesk robots that give answers and independently provide solutions. But our M&A policy is focused on the search for companies that really make a difference.”

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