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Searching for a new balance

After the political upheavals of 2016, this year has been characterised by countries and markets seeking to find a new balance. The United Kingdom grappled with Brexit, the United States gained a new president, the Netherlands formed a new government following the highly splintered election and Germany began moving towards a new political equilibrium.


Amid this political uncertainty, stock markets have had a strikingly strong year, the euro strengthened against the US dollar and the oil price recovered to above $ 60 a barrel. Together these developments create the impression that the economy is less dependent on political developments than politicians seem to think.


Politicians did let their influence be felt in the Dutch market for mergers and acquisitions. PostNL and AkzoNobel were, when faced with a potential acquisition by Belgian bpost and US-based PPG respectively, designated part of the Netherlands’ national cultural heritage and protected through political means. The attackers retreated. While it’s true they didn’t back out solely due to political pressure, the Dutch discount was nonetheless back with a vengeance.


Developments surrounding AkzoNobel and PostNL in general and Kraft Heinz’ bid for Unilever in particular made it clear that economies of scale and market dominance are deemed to be increasingly important. Giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon are not only becoming more and more dominant in their own markets, they’re expanding the breadth of their activities too. These big three are actually expanding so rapidly that they are even expected to become dominant players in the financial sector in the future.


There were a number of promising developments for SPJ in 2017. Some were achieved independently and others in collaboration with our partners within the international AMO network. We entered into new ongoing relationships with Achmea Investment Management, JAB Holding and ForFarmers. In addition, we began working with Sif Group through our new colleague Fons van Lith.


We were involved as an agency in the communications relating to the stake Aegon acquired in Dynamic Credit, the strategic discussion between our client Eminence Capital and ASM International, the communications regarding Alteri Investors’ acquisition of Intertoys and Atos’ bid for Gemalto.


In addition, we helped develop the communications policy of young life sciences companies such as SkylineDX and Glycostem. In doing so it became clear that small-scale niche players and specialised newcomers can successfully gain a position in the market alongside the superpowers. Markets are also searching for a new balance in this respect.


As a boutique agency with strong international partners, SPJ has found the right balance that once again proved its merits in 2017. This is why our agency also looks to 2018 with confidence and enthusiasm.


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