From the Chair of the Closely Held and Growing Business Enterprise Committee

Friday 17 December 2021

Come what may – the Closely Held will always be the Closely Held

This time of the year is the moment for retrospective reflections, for a look into the future - and for New Year’s resolutions. For some jurisdictions it’s also the moment where one should show that they have behaved, in order to get the reward for it…

Retrospective reflections

Many of us believed that we had left it behind us, but, no, the pandemic is tightening its grip on us again. Since the pandemic began the IBA Closely Held and Growing Business Enterprise Committee (the ‘Closely Held’) has, however, shown an extraordinary resilience and ability to adapt to new circumstances.

In 2020 we were able to organise, in just a few weeks and with the active support of many of our members, the very first IBA virtual conference. Consisting of six webinars which were held over two weeks, this event attracted some 3,600 registrations, and some 1,500 viewers. Even more impressive is the fact that hundreds of Committee members and friends contributed to the jurisdictional comparison studies that were prepared in connection with some of the webinars. In October 2020, we had our first virtual retreat, which was the beginning of a series of virtual events that have grown to become more and more interactive and popular, and are now part of our regular activities.

2021 has seen a further development of the virtual conference format. In March we had our second virtual entrepreneurship conference. This time we almost entirely abandoned the webinar format and turned to interactive virtual breakout sessions, even adding a virtual drinks and dinner event which turned out to be a very entertaining idea.

Beyond that, we have been able to hold our very first in-person events. In October, some 65 members spent a marvellous weekend in Chantilly, outside of Paris, in an open Committee retreat that will certainly never be forgotten by those who were lucky enough to be there. This event was followed by a one and a half day ‘From start-up to IPO’ in-person Conference, jointly organised by us with the IBA Corporate and M&A Committee and which, although organised in the summer and with very little lead-time, was a high-quality event that was sold out and attracted 250 participants.

All these events have confirmed the reputation of the Closely Held as a warm and welcoming Committee, with an almost family-like atmosphere. And they have earned us a well-deserved reputation within the whole IBA for being one of the most innovative Committees - and probably the most daring of all.

This has only been possible because, at all times, we have been able to count on you, our members. For bringing up ideas for new topics, events and formats, working very hard in preparing these events, and also for stepping in – as many of you did in summer, when we had to decide whether to book a hotel for our retreat knowing that if it had to be cancelled we would all lose our money – and agreeing to share an economic risk, you have always been here for the Committee. So, the credit for the success of the past two years really is entirely YOURS!

A look into 2022 (and beyond)

The Committee’s Officers, under the leadership of our incoming Chair Alejandro ‘Alex’ Payá, are already working hard in organising our May 2021 Global Entrepreneurship Conference, our Miami Annual Conference panels and dinner, and of course our pre-conference open retreat. Other events are also being planned, like a second edition of the Latin American Entrepreneurship Conference. Beyond that, an ever-growing group of enthusiasts is continuing to contribute to the ‘Pan-European lean investment model documents’ project (a joint venture of the IBA European Regional Forum and the Closely Held) and to update the Committee’s Guide on Shareholders Agreement, as well as the new edition of the jurisdictional comparison of Foreign Direct Investment Control.

A great challenge for 2022, which the team is very much willing to take up, is to manage to organise the very first dual – ie, in-person and virtual – IBA conference. There are obstacles and challenges in the way – and it’s going to be great fun to overcome and master them!

Will all these activities take place despite the dark clouds of new Covid waves and contact restrictions gathering on the horizon? Yes, for sure. We have learned to plan in terms of physical and virtual events at the same time, and with the help of our members we will never ever run out of ideas for novel formats and new events. So, come what may – the Closely Held will always be the Closely Held.

New Year’s resolutions

While I happily leave the Committee’s official New Year resolutions to my dear friend and successor Alex, and to the fantastic team of Officers, I have one personal resolution that I wish to share: relieved of the (very honourable) burden of being an Officer, I will happily focus on enjoying the Committee’s great activities more than ever.

Season’s greetings to you and your beloved ones, and may 2022 be a joyful, healthy and fantastic year,

Marco Rizzi

Immediate Past Chair, IBA Closely Held and Growing Business Enterprises Committee