Over 100 IMAP dealmakers gathered from around the world in Bilbao from 3-5 November for IMAP’s Fall 2022 three-day Conference.
On Thursday 3rd November, the event kicked-off with a private tour to the world-renowned Guggenheim Museum. This was followed by an invite-only symposium organized by conference hosts IMAP Albia Capital, IMAP’s exclusive partners in Spain. Keynote Speaker, Iñigo Fernandez de Mesa, Chairman of Rothschild & Co in Spain and Vice President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) shared insights into the current economic situation in Spain, and the need for efficient spending measures and fiscal strategy in the mid-term in light of the current economic uncertainty. This was followed by “Albiacustic”, now in its 5th year and IMAP Albia Capital’s flagship client event combing finance, art, music, and solidarity projects in which guests were treated to live music by popular music group, Smile.
Opportunities for M&A Despite Difficult Market Conditions
Friday and Saturday’s sessions were held on the 29th floor of the Iberdrola Tower, the Basque Country’s tallest building, designed by prestigious Argentine architect César Pelli. With what looks to be an impending world-wide recession, one of the main themes of the conference and indeed Friday’s morning sessions, was how this will impact the M&A markets across the regions. Following a presentation by Hans Bevers, Chief Economist at Degroof Petercam – IMAP France & Belgium, IMAP panelists from Japan, South Africa, France, Spain, Canada, and Poland shared insights into the implications of the current geopolitical and macro-economic situation in their markets, as well as discussed opportunities for deal making what is said to be the most challenging economic environment for the last 40 years.
Continuing IMAP’s examination of ESG in M&A, guest speakers Lorea Aristizabal Abasolo, Director of Corporate Development and Irache Pardo Villanueva, Director of Financial & Treasury and Corporate Purchasing Officer at CIE Automotive led a session looking at the company’s evolution during the last 25 years, in which M&A has been an essential tool, having integrated 100 companies to date. They also shared details of their ESG strategy, how it has been integrated into the business model and following its decision to join and sign the United Nations Global Compact in 2015, how the company is committed to achieving its ESG targets driven by the company’s engagement to governance, the environment, 4.0 sector, supply chain and its people.
Saturday morning’s sessions were dedicated to discussing business culture and values. First, Margarita Alvarez, listed by Forbes as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Spain and Director of the Human Age Institute and CEO of Working for Happiness, asked the question, “what does happiness have to do with finance?” Examining the importance of achieving happiness both personally and professionally, she discussed how this is especially relevant in the aftermath of the COVID outbreak, why many people still struggle to understand what happiness really means, as well as why more than ever it’s crucial employers should focus on employee wellbeing. Later, and bringing solidarity to the forefront, Mikel Rentería, Founder of the The Walk On Project (WoP) Foundation shared his son Jon’s moving story and motivaton for creating the WoP Foundation, which to date has allocated over €700.000 to fund research projects, and increase publish and social awareness in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases.
The Importance of the IMAP Family
Throughout the conference, IMAP partner bi-laterals were prevalent, providing the opportunity for IMAP colleagues from around the world to meet new colleagues, catch up with old friends, and discuss M&A collaboration opportunities across the 15 sectors that IMAP covers via its 450+ professionals across 41 countries.
Furthermore, because IMAP conferences are held around the world, and often attendees are accompanied by their partners for many years in parallel to the conference, IMAP organizes an exclusive Spouse Program. This includes organized cultural, culinary and unique activities and Bilbao was no exception. In fact, the program boasted the highest attendance in many years, with activities in Bilbao and San Sebastian.