30 September 2017

Jean-Luc Laloë Non-Executive Director & Former Executive in the Subsea Industry (Subsea 7, Technip, Harkand)

Interviewed by Slimane Bouabbane

A few words about your career in the industry

I started my career in Offshore Engineering and Construction some 40 years ago, fresh from an MSc in aeronautical engineering. I came to this industry somewhat by accident: I was working in naval architecture, and one day I was assigned the conceptual design of an advanced Anchor Handling Tug. What I like particularly in this industry are its key DNA elements: its world is the oceans, it deals with energy, it has technology, it is international, and it undertakes projects. I was lucky enough to work in four countries across three continents, and to hold positions over the years across all areas of the business, from engineering to finances, and from HR to Merger & Acquisition.

When it comes to negotiating transactions, what do you think are the biggest challenges?

That of course depends very much of the circumstances. If I had to pick one, I would say that the most important challenge is to understand the objectives and the parameters of the other side. With that clear in your mind, you can work-out solutions towards a successful transaction.

What is your key advice for a good deal?

Once the initial parameters are understood, use a simple non-binding term-sheet as a tool to help define the deal and converge towards a package. Of course individual issues must be addressed, but look at them from the top down, and as part of a package.

Are there specific issues with equipment transactions that you think companies should be careful with?

The one which comes to mind is the condition of the equipment, including certifications and spares parts. The seller must prepare a complete detailed pack of data and documents for the complete information of the buyer.

Can you share one story with us about an interesting transaction you have been involved with?

I’ll pick an asset deal involving a fleet of some 40 ROVs on six countries over four continents, including the operational personnel and the customer contracts. It was far from a simple straightforward transaction, but as we progressed in the project, a good level of mutual understanding, cooperation and trust was developed between seller and buyer. For example we as sellers prepared very exhaustive and extremely detailed documentation about all components of this asset deal, which the buyer found very useful to assess the condition and the value of the business. One particular challenge was for the buyer to be satisfied that the ROVs, many of them at work during the transaction discussions, were all in good condition all the time including when the deal was eventually signed is some meeting room very far away from the action in the fields.That came down to the people in charge of the transaction and to their ways of working. Without this it would not have been possible to close this transaction, which was a success for both parties.