Guillaume Reboul (Reboul & Associés): “The tech and healthcare sectors are enjoying exceptional growth”

Reboul & Associés is the advisor-of-choice to a varied clientele encompassing, startups, multinationals and everything in-between. It played a significant role in the bustling M&A, private equity and financing year that was 2021. Guillaume Reboul tells us about how his firm champions growth leaders.

Posted Friday, January 14th 2022
Guillaume Reboul (Reboul & Associés): “The tech and healthcare sectors are enjoying exceptional growth”

What makes Reboul & Associés tick?
We are an approachable boutique composed of lawyers hand picked from top-tier firms. We strive to marry the thoroughness and responsiveness of a large firm with the flexibility of a boutique.

Having a smaller team leads to more fluid communication and faster decision-making. The firm has three partners and we work with other firms on specific matters, such as those with a strong labor-law dimension, and have a strong overseas best-friends network.

In 2021 you added a new partner, Éric Bérengier. What assets does he bring to the firm
Éric Bérengier is a tax specialist, and his arrival puts the firm in a position to propose additional services related to M&A, private equity and financing, which are our primary activities. He was previously international counsel at US firm Debevoise & Plimpton, a firm I also have experience working at.

After joining us in May of 2021, Éric wasted no time in proving his worth, even in cases we were handling for historic clients. He has, for example, worked on deals we helped finalize for Babilou, as well as on the structural aspects of an LBO we were tasked with.

Speaking of which, could you tell us more about some of the deals Reboul & Associés worked on in 2021?
We provided advice to Dassault Systèmes which, alongside Habert Dassault Finance and Swisscom Ventures, acquired a stake in Bloom, a social-media-analytics firm. We also acted for Dassault Systèmes during their purchase of Iterop.

The firm was involved in Biogroup’s acquisition of the Bio-Santis laboratory, Europe’s second-largest bio-medical company. We also accompanied music-talent agency Creaminal during its merger with Alter K, and took part in the latest fundraising rounds of nano-satellite manufacturer Prométhée, software house Bridge Audio, video-game publisher Dogami and medtech Fineheart.

Helping startups comes from our firm's focus on building strong personal ties with clients

You seem to have a broad range of clients.
Indeed we do. We have recently acted for health and tech startups as well as listed companies, in addition to more traditional SMEs. Dassault Systèmes, Babilou and Efeso Consulting are among our historic clients.

We have a deep understanding of the ins and outs of dealmaking in the software sector, a sector in which we have successfully concluded a number of private equity and M&A operations, in addition to expertise in healthcare and service provision. We usually acquire new clients by word of mouth and are increasingly involved in renewable energy subjects.

Olivier Mourain has successfully developed our private equity activity, helping us carry out significant fundraising operations in the fields of biotech, greentech and enertech.

What is the interest for a firm such as yours, which has a regular stream of work from major companies, being so involved with startups?
Helping startups comes from our firm's focus on building strong personal ties with clients. When we feel a new company has potential, either because of the quality of its founders or because it is developing an exceptional product or service, we don’t hesitate to give it our full attention.

It is in our interests to develop strong ties with a client that could, in the space of a few years, grow into a major corporation. This has been the case with Babilou, for example, with whom our involvement goes all the way back to their first-ever fundraising in 2008.

Over the past decade and a half, we have been there to assist its directors with the vast majority of their external growth operations, both in France and abroad, in countries like the USA, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. Today Babilou is a global player and we are proud of the part we’ve played in its success.

What sort of services does Reboul & Associés provide?
We tailor our advice to the needs of each individual client. This is no easy task, but there is commercial value in it, and it keeps the job interesting. A founder of a startup does not have the same needs as the head of a family business or an in-house counsel at a multinational.

We provide an abundance of crucial advice to startuppers, on things like how to structure a financial operations, including how to approach a fund, signing a letter of confidentiality, not diluting their capital etc.

Advice to the director of a family-run SME, on the other hand, tends to cover more run-of-the-mill subjects such as payroll management or restructuring. As for large companies, they have more precise needs that require a high level of responsiveness and a large team to work on them.

What do you think of the trend of large companies investing in startups?
This trend is nothing new, but it is occurring with greater frequency than before. Corporations are investing in firms developing technology that they think might have a bearing on the market in the coming years.

We have also witnessed that the mechanisms by which they do this have become more advanced, taking advantage of the latest private equity financing methods. For example, we advised a cloud-based software company that used a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) method of investment rather than a more conventional type.

The amounts raised in funding rounds grow ever-more headline-grabbing. What effect does this have on your firm’s role?
We have a pedagogical role to play as regards the investment instruments at our clients’ disposal, which can sometimes be complicated economically or in terms of governance.

Now, even on a small-scale fundraising, we see business angels trying to utilize mechanisms and governance methods of their choosing, which are favorable to them as investors and so our role is to protect young companies when investors approach them with the offer of a deal.

Corporations are investing in firms developing technology that they think might have a bearing on the market in the coming years

In 2021, M&A operations multiplied across the globe. Did this translate to a busy year for your firm?
2021 was in the top-two years in terms of activity in our firm’s 16-year history. We saw a strong economic recovery following the housing crisis of 2008, but there was an even bigger bounce-back effect in last year.

Compared to 2008 there are also more investment funds operating in the market these days. In addition, the sectors they want to invest in are sectors our firm has gotten to know very well by this stage.

What projects are in the pipeline for 2022?
Recruitment… lots of recruitment. This will be far from straightforward, however, as the market is still uncertain and we will need to make sure that, although the volume of work for the firm has increased, we bring in the right staff, people who want to come and work for us. At Reboul & Associés, quality of life and quality of work go hand in hand.

As an approachable, boutique firm our lawyers are in constant contact with clients and there is no hierarchy – everyone shares in the decision-making process. Furthermore, we intend to add partners to our M&A and private equity teams in 2022.