Ponsse Plc is an international export company with roots deep in the Finnish countryside. Known as one of the world's largest manufacturers of cut-to-length forest machines, Ponsse develops and manufactures sustainable and innovative harvesting solutions for the global market. The company’s network covers 40 countries, and exports typically make up nearly 80% of its net sales.
In 2019, Ponsse’s CFO Petri Härkönen participated in Aalto EE’s Mergers and Acquisitions program.
“Mergers and acquisitions are a topic of interest for every growth company. Thus far, Ponsse has never actively sought M&A opportunities, but after many years of solid growth, I felt that the time was right to educate myself about M&A matters. It’s best to be prepared, whatever the future brings,” Härkönen says.
Härkönen has worked at Ponsse as CFO for just over a decade. As his work and home are in central Finland, opting for a program in Helsinki meant quite a commute.
”The Mergers & Acquisitions program fit the bill exactly for what I aspired to learn – and we’ve had great experiences with Aalto EE programs in the past at Ponsse. Thus, Aalto EE was an easy choice, although studies meant time apart from my family. Luckily, the in-class days were always grouped together, which made arrangements easier for participants like me,” Härkönen remarks.
The content was versatile and interesting, and the interactive learning was highly rewarding.”
Härkönen describes the M&A program as well-structured, beneficial, and very enjoyable.
“Once we got started, I soon found myself looking forward to the next in-class days. The content was versatile and interesting, and the interactive learning was highly rewarding,” he notes.
”We had experts from different areas of mergers and acquisitions sharing their insights with us – and many participants in our group also had extensive proficiency in different areas of M&As, for example valuation, due diligence, and technical integration. This enriched the learning experience and made for great discussions both in-class and during breaks,” he says.
For Härkönen, the beginning and the end of the Mergers & Acquisitions program were definite highlights, although he emphasizes that everything in between was very useful as well.
“We started out with valuable insights on why and how mergers and acquisitions must be linked to the company strategy – and concrete examples of typical pitfalls in M&A strategies. This was very beneficial and set the stage for all that followed,” Härkönen notes.
“Post-merger integration was the final topic. We covered it during our last two in-class days. This portion really drove home that the real work starts once the deal is done. You have every opportunity to fail if you neglect to invest into the integration process,” he reminds.
I got an across-the-board outlook of M&A processes and everything that needs to be taken into consideration, which is exactly what I was looking for.”
For Härkönen, the greatest take away from the program was gaining a comprehensive picture of the entire M&A process.
”I got an across-the-board outlook of M&A processes and everything that needs to be taken into consideration, which is exactly what I was looking for,” Härkönen affirms.
“I feel well prepared if such a day comes that Ponsse decides to start looking into M&A opportunities. I have a solid notion of the kinds of experts I need to link to the process, and a good understanding of best practices, what tools to select, and what kind of timeframe we should expect to advance in,” he states.
Härkönen says that he is pleased to endorse Aalto EE’s Mergers and Acquisitions program.
“The program was a very positive experience from start to finish. I recommend participating to anyone who wishes to gain a general view of M&A processes, practical examples that deepen your understanding, and great insights regarding what to avoid and what all it takes to succeed,” Härkönen concludes.