For the oneBurda interview series "10 questions for..." we spoke to Marcel Maier, Manager Mergers & Acquisitions. In the interview, Marcel reveals that his grandfather worked at Burda in the 60s and that he is continuing a family tradition with his current job.
With my grandfather! He worked for Burda in Offenburg in the finance department from the 1960s to the 1980s. As I deal with numbers every day, it would be exciting to know what working life was like back then and what tools were used. I assume that neither of us would really know our way around - he at the computer in front of an Excel spreadsheet and myself working with a slide rule...
In the Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) team, we manage the buying and selling of corporate investments, which is a very dynamic business. In short – no two days are the same. We are currently in the so-called "due diligence" phase of a project, which means we are analysing a potential target company from a commercial, financial, tax and legal point of view. This means we can provide our decision-makers in the Burda Group with the necessary information on whether the planned transaction makes sense or not. This phase of the project is characterised by both independent analyses, including financial figures or KPIs, and intensive exchange with the advisors that we are working with in the context of the transaction.
I have been part of the M&A team at Burda for almost one and a half years now. Prior to that, I worked for almost five years as a management consultant in the field of M&A at Ebner Stolz in Stuttgart.
Working in the field of M&A is fascinating because you can support your own company through important changes and strategic decisions. It is also a chance to work with talented professionals from different parts across our Group and to learn from their expertise.
There is no prescribed path to a career in "M&A". Many people study business administration or economics, majoring in accounting, corporate finance or controlling and then join a management consultancy.
After a few years of gaining experience on a wide range of projects, you often switch to the so-called "buyers’ side", i.e., to the side of the client you were previously advising. This was the case for me. In addition to professional skills, I think that the joy of dealing with people and being motivated to learn new things and entering unknown areas play a huge and important role in everyday work.
In addition to the classic Microsoft Office applications, virtual data room solutions should certainly be mentioned here. As part of the due diligence process (see question 2), the seller provides a lot of data for commercial, financial, tax and legal analysis. Today, this is no longer done through physical data rooms, but through virtual data rooms. The functionality of virtual data rooms ranges from Q&A tools to tracking tools that record the progress of due diligence, as well as the ability to upload and download documents. These tools speed up the process significantly and enables all parties to work efficiently. We also use specialised M&A databases, such as S&P Capital IQ and Mergermarket, from which we can pull company financials and company valuation details.
Tools like ChatGPT can be very helpful when you need to dive into new business models and quickly understand the key business drivers. So, one of my favourite prompts is: "I want to learn more about [insert topic of interest]. Identify and share the key 20% of learning from this topic to help me understand 80% of it." I highly recommend trying it out!
At the end of the day, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I am normally in the office with my team colleagues (Arabellastraße) from Monday to Thursday. As we are a very small team of three, we are in constantly in touch and the office simply allows us to work together more efficiently. Still, it is nice to have the flexibility of home office at least on Fridays.
I like to go jogging in the evening after work, as this is a good way to relax after being in the office all day. As I live in Haidhausen, which is in the south-east of Munich, I can be out in the countryside in no time, which is much more fun than running in the hustle and bustle of the city. At the weekend, you can often find me on my racing bike in the south of Munich.
I think summer in Munich is something to look forward to every year! We're already in the middle of midsummer - let's hope it lasts at least until mid-September. After that, the start of the Oktoberfest (Wiesn) will certainly make up for the summer coming to an end!