PHILIPPE OPSOMER, JOËL DUYSAN, MAXIME D’HONDT – PRIVATE EQUITY’S MISSING LINK

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This is the story of a seasoned stockbroker, a property sector expert and a young wealth management go-getter. The combined know-how of these three Solvay graduates has brought us BeeBonds – the ‘newbee’ causing a buzz in the crowdlending world…

Within a short time of its launch, your crowdfunding platform raised 1.5 million Euros for
the BlackReit property firm. That’s a record in Belgium… How do you explain this success?

Joël Duysan: Crowdfunding is the future! So it’s hardly surprising to see crowdlending platforms like BeeBonds generating so much interest…
Maxime D’Hondt: Some investors are a bit tirBeebonds_0261 det ed of the opacity and volatility of the financial markets… algorithms, passive management, dematerialisation, etc. They are keener to understand and give some meaning to their investment…
J.D.: With BeeBonds, we’re offering a return to primary funding… Our role is simple: to put
a company that needs funding in touch with investors ready to advance these funds in exchange for a return that reflects the risk taken.
Philippe Opsomer: Going back to our first project – BlackReit – all the investors know exactly what the money raised is being used for. Their need for meaning is being met by offering tangible investments with an immediate and genuine impact on the economy.
Some of these investors are so impressed that they’re already thinking of pledging 100,000 euros (ed. note: the entry level investment for property projects) for each future project!

We have Mrs Duysan to thank!

Let’s go back to the birth of BeeBonds. How did this adventure start?

J.D.: To be honest, the idea really came from my wife (he laughs)! She often used to ask me why the markets didn’t offer investments that were closer to people, more human and collaborative – positive investments that helped to support tangible projects. Ethical and participatory funding, for the people, by the people… I was just doing what she wanted…!
M.D.H.: You need to be aware that when you buy shares on the stock exchange, it’s not the company that you’re helping! You’re speculating on the market price of the asset and only the seller really benefits from this…
J.D.: … unlike crowdlending where the investor is banking directly on the growth of the company. Hence its ‘participatory’ nature!

There are already other actors out there – what’s original about your approach?

J.D.: We have a double requirement: to select good projects and provide secure financial products to investors. Quality rather than quantity! And that’s also why we’ve created bonds. It’s more efficient and more transparent as we’re not gambling on a future evaluation of the company but only on the issuer’s ability to pay the coupon and to repay at maturity.
M.D.H.: Our approach is based on the security of the bond. And that’s why, in our process, the banks continue to play their subscriber role. Once a project is offered on the platform, we are ‘only’ the intermediary…
J.D.: The interested investor then receives a traditional allotment letter with an ISIN code (ed. note: International Securities Identification Number), which he must complete and send to his bank. When fundraising has ended, the bank takes back the bond and places it in the client’s securities account.
M.D.H.: And, as with any other bond, the investor can, if he wishes, ask his bank to sell… And, even if the security’s liquidity isn’t as high as on the financial markets, BeeBonds will take care of energising the market to find a buyer by making good use of its networks.

A ‘private hive’

Another original feature – anonymity!

M.D.H.: The aim is to allow institutional investors to position themselves on a crowdlending platform. This isn’t usually the case. We’ve constructed a private ‘hive’ that both guarantees them anonymity and offers sufficiently high amounts to draw them in…
BeeBonds is active in several segments. The first one was the property sector…
J.D.: Our idea was also to harness ‘family and friends’ investments. People don’t always realise the amounts raised in this way, particularly in property projects where the banks require substantial equity.
P.O.: Also, in getting to know the property market, we soon identified a keen interest in BeeBonds, particularly among the small but very dynamic actors who make up the core
of Belgium’s residents.

 

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