Case study 2: Change process

An international family business undergoing a change process.

The company

The successful logistics company with more than 1,000 employees operates all over the world. A group of second generation principal shareholders is in the process of addressing questions about the future of the company: Do we want to keep the company in family ownership in the long term? What options are open to us?

Our role

We were engaged by the principal shareholders second generation shareholders to guide the decision-making process and to moderate the discussions with the parties involved. Three of the main second generation shareholders invited two third generation shareholders to participate in workshops to develop solution-based options for the shareholders and then decide together which path they would like to take, both as a family and as family shareholders.

The solution process

The needs of the five people involved in relation to their personal and family situation were clarified in individual discussions, as well as those – from their respective perspectives – of the company and the employees. Options were elaborated and discussed within a group workshop. It was decided that the majority of the company would remain in family ownership and that the family shareholders would act as the principal shareholders. The most important cornerstones for implementing this decision were establishing a family holding company, setting out family values, setting up a family council, defining rules on who can perform which tasks with which qualifications, and setting out the requirements for shareholders. Further questions were also addressed, such as how a family member can become a shareholder, how it is possible to leave the company and whether age limits should be put in place. A training strategy defined what level of expertise newcomers to the company should have and acquire in terms of communication, finances and the company itself.

Step by step, the heirs and future successors were then brought into the process.Maintaining and strengthening the family bond is just as important as that within the board of directors or the family holding company. Reporting, an information system and regular meetings govern the ongoing relationship between the extended family, employees and the board of directors.

In addition to the expert advisors for entrepreneurial, financial, tax, inheritance and matrimonial aspects, as well as for drafting the shareholders’ agreement, additional communication experts were engaged to train the family in non-violent communication. The junior generation was supported by external coaches for the assessments. AG
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