Security sector consolidation

Since 2010, ASCENDANT has completed 13 transactions in the security sector. Nine companies where a part of the AWG group in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3 separate transactions where completed in Croatia and 1 in Serbia.

These companies where acquired by Securitas AB, a Swedish multinational company, currently the second largest security company in the world.

This was a classic example of successful sector consolidation in the region. 

It should be recognized that the investor had different approaches to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Bosnia, it acquired the largest Group on the market where it became a market leader immediately. In Croatia, the investor opted to acquire smaller companies and work their way to second largest security company in the country. There are a number of reasons why this was the case, which will not be analyzed here, but mainly it comes down to the specifics of each market like size, number of companies, management of those companies etc.

In Croatia, before Securitas’ acquisitions, the market was divided between one large company (market leader), few state-owned companies which served mostly the state-owned companies and institutions, and a number of smaller security companies that were mostly concentrated in a limited geographic area. 

Even before the foreign investor showed an interest to consolidate the market, smaller companies in Croatia recognized the need to merge or connect through a holding company in order to be able to compete with the market leader. However, these attempts were not successful. The main reason was that in these attempts there was no “equity element”. It was shown how hard it is to consolidate or merge companies without cash-out’s, especially on the markets where the local entrepreneurs are not too familiar with the investment banking and M&A industry and where they have not witnessed successful examples of such consolidations.

This was beneficial to the foreign investor because the negotiating power of each smaller company is much lower than it would be if these companies merged before a foreign investor decided to enter the market.

ASCENDANT’s role in the process of consolidation was sell side advisory. We started with AWG Group. After successful transactions of the companies within AWG Group we started to advise other companies which recognized the trend and the opportunity. This was a critical moment for the entire process. On one side, there was an investor interested to expand in the region, with sufficient funding to do it, on the other side, there was a number of local companies interested in the sale and an experienced advisor who prepared them for the demanding M&A process and led them through it all the way. For a successful consolidation, all of the three factors mentioned above are needed.

Today, Croatian and Bosnia-Herzegovinian security markets are consolidated. That does not mean that further transactions will not happen in the future, but such re-shaping of the market described here, in such a short period, is hardly going to happen in the foreseeable future.

One more element has to be mentioned, which permeates any M&A activity, and that is the clash of cultures. It can appear on a symbolic level and be easy to overcome, but still, it has to be recognized and taken care of. 

In the case described here, it was as big as it gets. On one side, a Swedish multi-national company listed on Stockholm and New York stock exchange, on the other side, family owned entrepreneurial companies. 

This consolidation process was a success for all parties, and we are proud to say that we were an integral part of it.

Client's opinion

We thank you Slaven and Jurgis and the whole ASCENDANT team for the energy you have invested in closing this transaction in a short but very intense process.

Damir Funčić, Ivan Funčić, Luka Funčić Owners and management board of Protect d.o.o.

Selling a majority stake in a real family owned company like ours was a complicated challenge (as it is for any other owner in this situation). The challenge was even more complicated because of the fact that our ownership structure covered different generations which resulted in very different opinions on each challenge posed by the sale process!

Throughout the engagement we have received great support from the ASCENDANT team, who committed their knowledge, time and energy into the entire process and ultimately greatly contributed to finalizing the transaction to the satisfaction of both parties.

We worked on this project for two whole years. At first, our objective was to merge four firms, our company with 3 other independent companies, and then to find a strategic partner together.

Apart from obvious aspects like professionalism, flexibility and knowledge it is essential that you can quickly develop an easy and dynamic relationship between you and your adviser. Jurgis and Slaven are tremendous characters and were generous with their time and energy, whether for the formal events or the impromptu get-togethers to take us through challenges. 

We thank you Slaven and Jurgis and the whole ASCENDANT team for the energy you have invested in closing this transaction in a short but very intense process. 

We will not forget your impeccable suggestion for legal counsel, who is a true professional and who succeeded to win the trust of my family when negotiating with the counterparty, such a large multinational corporation. Dražen (Partner at law office Porobija & Porobija) has also been an important member of the team and we want to thank him as well for his great commitment in the process. 

We look forward to working on other projects in the future.

We were successful because we had a team that really understood the process of merger and acquisition – the art of selling companies.

Mirsad Čatić Founder and former owner of Alarm West Group

Selling your company is not an easy task. It is very charged emotionally. You are after all selling your creation to an outsider. Most people will only get one chance to get it right.  Ascendant and my team worked together on two levels. First of all I was keen to try and bring a financial investor such as a private equity fund into the company. Ascendant brought one of the largest funds with a strong presence in the private security sector and the biggest company in the sector.

We were successful because we had a team that really understood the process of merger and acquisition – the art of selling companies. This is a very specific form of advisory work and they operate on a very different basis to ordinary consultants. And finally don’t fight conventional wisdom. You must get your finances in order and they must be believable…..remember that the big companies have seen a lot of similar operations and you need to look sharp and smell good.

More than anything they were fully dedicated to find the best match for our company and to close the deal to our owner’s satisfaction.

Hrvoje Novosel CFO of Tehnomobil d.o.o.

Finding the right strategic partner to further expand and develop your business is risky and hard.

Having the right advisors to get you to your final destination and help you navigate through this, usually, one-time only process of selling your company is crucial. 

Tehnomobil found such partner in Ascendant. 

Our transaction was a complex one. It included divesting in the region by selling our branches, disconnecting our SPV sister companies from our core business, cleaning our balance sheet of non-core items and resolving interconnections between Tehnomobil Group companies and commercial banks. 

Ascendant team was professional, knowledgeable and having done several M&A’s in security industry in the region, very well versed in industry specifics. But more than anything they were fully dedicated to finding the best match for our company and to closing the deal to our owner’s satisfaction.

From beginning we got full support every step of the way, be it approach to potential investors, sales strategy, or financial and legal aspects of the process. Throughout, Jurgis, Slaven and Marko acted not just as advisors to the process but as full time team members immersed in activities down to operational tasks. Our cooperation was full success.

When it comes to acquisitions, Ascendant has the right stuff.


Below you can find the tombstones and testimonials of respective transactions:

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