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Roland Berger partners vote overwhelmingly to stay independent

Burkhard Schwenker

Munich, Frankfurt: Europe's biggest strategy firm, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, confirmed last night that its partners have rejected take-over offers, most recently from EY, and are determined to remain independent.

  • Roland Berger Partners agree to maintain independence
  • The firm says it will strengthen its position as the only global strategy consultancy with European roots
  • "Clients want us to stand alone and provide our distinctive view in the face of the all-American competitors," says CEO Burkhard Schwenker

On Wednesday, the firm's 250 Partners gathered at their biannual meeting in Frankfurt. On the agenda was a joint recommendation by the Global Executive Committee and the Supervisory Board that the firm remain independent. The overwhelming majority of the Partners agreed to support this recommendation.

After the meeting Roland Berger said the decision draws a line under a series of talks "following requests by several international companies to buy the consultancy or enter into a strategic partnership" with the Munich-based firm. The most recent bid is understood to have come from professional services group EY (theConsultant.eu — 17 December)

"We had three goals for these talks: We wanted to push innovation within the industry, improve client service and achieve benefits for all of us," says Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schwenker, CEO of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.

"We weighed up all the possibilities and obstacles, such as regulatory issues, and in the end we can honestly say: There's no better way for us to support our clients, maintain our corporate identity and reach our common goals than by remaining independent," Schwenker said.

Burkhard Schwenker, who also served as CEO from 2004 to 2010, assumed leadership again this summer after his successor Martin Wittig had to step down for health reasons. Schwenker proposed to the Partners that they further strengthen their strategic capabilities.

"We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. This unsecure environment ("VUCA world") requires excellent consulting and creative strategies that work," explained Schwenker.

In order to provide clients with the necessary support, the firm will pursue a multi-regional approach. This approach focuses on the areas that are decisive for a specific industry or function, reorganizes the firm's regional structure and strengthens collaboration between its offices and Competence Centers.

The firm had already kicked off an extensive performance program led by Chief Operating Officer and President Asia Charles-Edouard Bouée. The initiative has already led to significant improvements.

"I'm very glad our program is starting to pay off," says Bouée. "Our Action Plan Committee and all the Partners together have already achieved some good results — both in terms of revenues and, more importantly, in terms of profits. This is an excellent basis for our new development plan for the next few years."

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