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CDI Global Announces New Partnership with Häggblom & Partners

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we are excited to announce the addition of Häggblom & Partners, a Finland-based financial advisory firm focusing on M&A and Strategic Advisory in the forest and bio-industry sectors. Häggblom exemplifies our long-term commitment to building deep industry knowledge and capabilities for serving our clients in making successful acquisitions and divestitures worldwide.

The M&A and strategic advisory resource base covered by Häggblom & Partners includes over 100 professionals of which over 20 are focused on forest industry and forestry related M&A; over 50 persons on strategic consultancy services, and over 40 senior associates providing high-level business sector specific expertise. In the field of plantation investment management and forest management planning, Häggblom & Partners also has significant resources. The forest assets under management exceed USD 2 billion.

Jeff Schmidt, CDI Global Executive Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, sat down with Rainer Häggblom, Chairman of Häggblom & Partners, to talk about the partnership and the vision they have for the future.  Here is their conversation:

Jeff: I am pleased to speak with Rainer Häggblom today about founding the firm that bears his name, and how he has grown and developed the firm. CDI Global, like Häggblom, is an entrepreneurial firm with nearly 50 offices across the globe. Häggblom & Partners extends our global reach and helps to build scale in industry sectors that have been and continue to be strengths of our firm.

Rainer: Thank you, Jeff, we are also excited with our partnership.  I was practically born in a pulp mill. I'm a Finn, as you know, so forestry and forest industry are very important for our country. My father had a long career with United Paper Mills, and he retired as Executive Vice President. I got to learn about forest industry at very young age. I've been working in different parts of the forest industry value chain from forest to pulp mill, paper mills, converting and paper sales. But the most important part of my career was Pöyry, the largest consulting and engineering company for the forest industry worldwide at that time. As Chairman and CEO of Pöyry Consulting I worked globally, in different investment and strategic projects.

Eventually I established my own businesses in forest Industry Merger and Acquisitions (Häggblom & Partners) and forest industry management consulting (Vision Hunters) and forest asset management, where we are both managing funds and managed accounts, which are direct investments by big investors. Altogether we manage forest assets worth more than 2 billion euros. So, the fit with CDI Global seems to be very natural because of your experience related to the forest industry.

Jeff: How are your resources deployed, particularly in the M&A area? You have a staff in Helsinki, but I believe you have other resources that support the M&A business in forest products industry?

Rainer: Yes, we have our headquarters here in Helsinki, in the city center. We have also associate experts in different parts of the world, in Europe, Singapore, USA and Latin America. And then we have a jointly owned office in Houston, Texas, which is the 50/50 joint venture between myself and my brother Henry, who used to be a senior executive of International Paper. So, that's how we have developed our resources, but keep in mind that at the same time, we have the consulting arm which can support us in substance matters when we are carrying out mergers and acquisitions for our clients.

We have about 100 people, but when we also count the associate companies, we are more than 250 people working in the forestry and forest industry business. Of course, the M&A arm itself is much smaller but can utilize the worldwide resources of our network. And we are very extremely pleased to join CDI Global because this is the way we can further develop our network and local presence, combining forest industry expertise, global understanding of the business, and then both local and global resources.

Jeff: I think it would be useful to describe a couple of projects that reflect the sort of breadth of capabilities that you bring, particularly in M&A. You and I have talked about a number of these previously, but it might be useful to provide kind of an overview of a few representative projects.

Rainer: Yes, we have a couple of recent ones, we helped with a major American company, Sylvamo, which is one of the leading companies in uncoated free sheet paper to acquire a Swedish pulp and paper mill called Nymölla. We analyzed the mill from a wood supply perspective, technical perspective, market perspective, and supported our client in a successful acquisition of the mill. It was owned by Stora Enso, and we were helping on the buy side. One important deal which we also did on the buy side is we helped MM Holz, which is one of the largest in Central European mechanical wood industry company to acquire three sawmills in in Sweden, one of the leading sawmilling in companies in the country, again on the buy side.

Then we worked together with CIBC in the United States and divested the UPM and The New York Times jointly owned company called Madison which had hydropower assets and hydropower shares, which were divested to a private equity company called Eagle Creek. Then we have been involved in several divestitures of non-core mills or non-core businesses of our large clients, such as Metsä Group here in Finland. One case which we can also mention is quite interesting and very typical for this time. We helped MM Packaging one of the largest packaging companies here in Europe to divest all their assets in Russia. So, as you know, many Western companies are leaving Russia, and we are able to assist them in successful divestitures.

Jeff: CDI Global is very strong in a paper and packaging practice. We also work along the entire value chain from forest products, which would include, paper companies for sure, and packaging. How would you envision collaborating or integrating our capabilities, combined capabilities in this segment of the overall forest products sector?

Rainer: Yes, that's what I'm very much looking forward to integrating our expertise with the expertise of the CDI Global team. There are many things which are taking place at the moment where we need both this global understanding and local presence. In this changing world we will have a growth which will be different than in the past. Western companies will look at the investment opportunities in the West. So, there will be a lot of activity over the Atlantic Ocean. We will see Europeans looking at North American opportunities. We will see North Americans looking at European opportunities. In addition, South American companies are becoming very important player in this field and will internationalize their businesses through M&A. We find partnership with CDI Global very important for leveraging our global knowledge and helping clients to grow and diversify their businesses.

Jeff: We are seeing an increasing level of interest for cross-continental transactions in various segments of the forest products value chain, including Paper and Packaging. Given the world geopolitical situation, Russia being a case in the point, there is increasing momentum for cross-border deal making. The combined strengths of CDI Global and Häggblom & Partners provide distinctive services and capabilities to buyers and sellers around the world. We look forward to leveraging our competitive advantage in forest products, paper and packaging, and related industry sectors with Häggblom & Partners. Thank you, Rainer, for joining us this morning. We look forward to building the world’s leading M&A advisory firm in forest products with you in the coming years.

Rainer: Yes, thank you, Jeff. We are thrilled as well. We will be an active member of CDI Global and are looking forward to working with you and our colleagues all over the world.

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