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Koen Sticker is the ‘Trends CFO of the Year 2024’

Koen Sticker, CFO of piping and water systems manufacturer Aliaxis, has been named ‘CFO of the Year’. He received the award on 24 May and follows in the footsteps of Mel de Vogue of Etex. Koen Sticker became Aliaxis CFO in 2016 and has contributed significantly to the growth and internationalisation of his company.


Despite a series of previous acquisitions, Aliaxis had never been in the spotlight much. Until last year, when it made a 1.8-billion euro bid on Finnish group Uponor. Aliaxis faced competition from the Swiss company Georg Fischer and was not interested in a bidding war that would be far too expensive, in no small part thanks to the efforts of Koen Sticker.

As CFO, Sticker proved that financial discipline is crucial for a company. Together with former CEO Eric Olsen, he spent a lot of time and effort on preparing the bid for Uponor. “We had decided from the outset what would be the end of the road for us”, he says about the episode. "Emotions can run high in a bidding war, but we pulled the plug at the right time. This was incredibly well received by the banks, credit rating agencies and our shareholders."

SD Worx wins ‘Deal of the Year 2024’

Trends has recently also awarded the ‘Deal of the Year’ for the fifth time. All 2023 mergers, acquisitions and capital operations that involved a Belgian company were eligible for this award. The most important criterion was the added financial and strategic value the operation brings to the stakeholders.

SD Worx was announced as the winner. The company has grown into a wide-ranging HR service provider of payroll, recruitment and selection, talent development, HR consultancy and more. SD Worx ranks fifth worldwide and acquisitions have played a major role in that. An IPO is on the cards some time in the future.

Olivia Doyen is CF'Hope of the Year

With the new ‘CF’Hope of the Year’ award, Trends wants to celebrate a young CFO of a promising medium-sized company that is experiencing significant growth. Olivia Doyen, CFO of construction company Galère, won the award this year.

After leaving university, she started her career with Fortis Investments, but after a few months decided to join Voo. Three years later, the young sales engineer moved to Galère. She has been CFO there since 2017. The panel praised Olivia Doyen for her consistent management of the company’s finances. They also praised her efforts to improve the company’s financial performance and were impressed by her involvement in the merger with the Thomas & Piron group, which was secretly prepared in the course of 2021.


BNP Paribas Fortis and Trends have been turning the spotlight on the exceptional qualities of CFOs of the top 500 companies in Belgium since 2012. Later they also added ‘Deal of the Year’ and ‘CF'Hope of the Year’. Virginie Martens, Head of Corporate Coverage Belgium at our bank, was a member of the panel this year.

Warm congratulations to all the winners! The bank is always ready to reward and encourage people and companies that contribute to our economy.



BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity becomes shareholder of Stûv

BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity joins forces with Wallonie Entreprendre by investing capital in Stûv, a leading player in renewable energy heating.

Renewable energy sources

The Walloon company Stûv, based in Bois-de-Villers near Namur, designs, manufactures and markets individual wood and pellet heating solutions in Belgium and internationally. 80% of its production is destined for export.

Over the past two years, Stûv has seen its growth increase sharply. Consumers are increasingly opting for renewable energy sources. There are several reasons for this: volatile energy prices, looming deficits due to Europe’s energy dependence and the impact of fossil energy on global warming.

Ambitious plans

To meet this growing demand, Stûv plans to invest EUR 16 million over the next five years. Three-quarters of this investment will be used to increase and modernise production capacity in Wallonia, while the rest will be to expand their Canadian site. To this end, Stûv welcomes two new shareholders: Wallonia Entreprendre and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity. The goal is to double the consolidated turnover.

Strong shareholders

With Wallonie Entreprendre and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, the Namur-based company is bringing two strong shareholders on board. In addition to capital, they both bring a great deal of experience, vision and expertise.

Commenting on the deal, Raf Moons, Head of BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity said: "We look forward to supporting the ambitious innovation strategy of a Walloon, Belgian and international industrial flagship company. Their social and environmental values also fit nicely with those of BNP Paribas Fortis."

Read the full press release here (only French or Dutch).

More about Private Equity.



Private Equity Awards 2023: discover the nominated companies


On 11 October 2023, we will be presenting the Private Equity Awards together with the BVA. Thanks to the support from private equity, the nine nominees all made good progress. Who are the contenders?

The Private Equity Awards reward Belgian companies that have received support from a private equity or venture capital investor for their growth and development, in three award categories: 'venture capital', 'growth' and 'buy=out'. The nine finalists were nominated based on criteria such as sustainable growth, authentic leadership, and shareholding.

This is the sixth time BNP Paribas Fortis has organised this prestigious award ceremony together with the Belgian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (BVA).

The nominees in the 'Venture company of the year' category

This category is for young companies that develop and market an innovative product or service with the support of a venture capital investor.

  • Agomab, a biotechnology company working on reversing disease processes and repairing damage to the body and organs.
  •, a spin-off of the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) and its partner universities, UGent & KU Leuven, which is committed to a safe and healthy food chain and a sustainable and profitable agricultural sector.
  • Dualyx, a biotech company that aims to efficiently modulate the immune system to suppress unwanted autoimmune reactions in patients with difficult-to-treat autoimmune diseases.

The nominees in the 'Growth company of the year' category

These are companies that have significantly expanded their activities through organic growth or acquisitions. They bring a financial partner on board who does not want control.

  • Biobest, one of the world’s leading companies in the field of natural pollination and crop protection through organic control.
  • UgenTec, a software provider for laboratories active in molecular biology.
  • Ecosteryl, a market leader in the handling of contaminated medical waste.

The nominees in the 'Buy-out company of the year' category

These companies are achieving growth through committed management and with the support of a private equity investor with a controlling stake.

  • Trustteam, an IT partner for companies that offers total solutions in the areas of infrastructure, software, security and communication.
  • Veldeman Group, a company in the construction sector offering solutions for setting up modular, dismountable infrastructure.
  • VK, a multidisciplinary design firm offering both architectural and engineering expertise for the construction industry.

Want to know more about the nominees? Read the press release.
To be continued… We’ll be sure to let you know when the winners are known.



Mel de Vogue of Etex is the ‘Trends CFO of the Year 2023’

Mel de Vogue, CFO of the Etex building materials group, accepted the award at Brussels Expo on 24 May, succeeding Karim Hajjar of Solvay. Mel de Vogue joined Etex as CFO in 2015 and was instrumental in laying the foundation of the new strategy adopted by the company a few years ago.


copyright Leyla Hesna

Focus on sustainability

"The then CEO, Paul Van Oyen, understood very early on that sustainability had to be at the heart of the strategy and that this had to translate into divesting some activities and adding others," says de Vogue. Etex sold a number of businesses and eliminated EUR 1 billion in debt. This strong financial position allowed the company to make a major acquisition last year. Etex put EUR 1 billion on the table to acquire Spanish insulation specialist URSA. The finance department, which employs almost 600 people, played a central role in these operations.

At the same time, de Vogue worked to internationalise and feminise his department. Of the twelve directors, there are now five foreigners and three women.

De Vogue won out over four other strong candidates: Alessandro Mazzocchetti (Odoo), Frédéric Deslypere (Sibelco), Nadine Aerts (SD Worx) and Ann Desender (Barco).

WDP wins the 'Deal of the Year 2023'

For the fourth time Trends also awarded a 'Deal of the Year' award. All mergers, acquisitions and capital operations involving a Belgian company in 2022 were eligible. The most important criterion is the financial and strategic added value that the operation created for the stakeholders.

There were five deals in the running, and the one from WDP emerged as the winner. Last year, the real estate company raised EUR 300 million of fresh money – in difficult market conditions. As a result, WDP can finance its future projects without causing its debt ratio to rise sharply.

Elke Toye of Vyncke is 'CF'Hope of the Year 2023'

With this brand-new award, Trends highlights a young CFO of a promising medium-sized company that is experiencing significant growth. Elke Toye, CFO of the West Flemish family company Vyncke, was the lucky winner.

Vyncke designs industrial incineration plants that convert residual streams into green energy. These are large projects involving large sums of money and long lead times. Financial risk management is therefore Elke Toye’s most important task. In her finance department, the CFO prefers to focus on one major project per year. 2023 is dedicated to preparing reporting on ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) sustainability criteria.


Since 2012, BNP Paribas Fortis and Trends have been putting the spotlight on the exceptional qualities of a CFO of a top 500 company in Belgium. Later, the crowning of the 'Deal of the Year' was added, and since this year a 'CF'Hope of the Year' has also been chosen. Virginie Martens, Head of Corporate Coverage Belgium at our bank, was a member of the jury.

Congratulations to the winners and to all the other candidates! Because rewarding and encouraging contributors to our economy is also Positive Banking.

Read the full interview with Mel de Vogue, CFO of Etex and Elke Toye, CFO of Vyncke.



Who will be the new Trends CFO of the Year?

On 24 May, we will know who will be succeeding Karim Hajjar, CFO of Solvay, as the 12th CFO of the Year. The jury also selected 5 deals with a chance to win Deal of the Year. New award: the CF'Hope of the Year.

CFO of the Year

With the CFO of the Year award, Trends and BNP Paribas Fortis highlight the achievements of a Belgian chief financial officer for the twelfth time. The jury pays particular attention to the CFO’s professional knowledge and communication and leadership skills, as well as the contribution they make to the strategic management of the company.

The candidates for the title of ‘Trends CFO of the Year 2023’ are:

  • Alessandro Mazzocchetti, CFO Odoo
  • Mel de Vogue, CFO ETEX
  • Frédéric Deslypere, CFO Sibelco
  • Nadine Aerts, CFO SD Worx
  • Ann Desender, CFO Barco

Check out the portraits of the candidates

Deal of the Year

The Deal of the Year rewards a particular transaction (merger or acquisition, capital increase ...) by which a Belgian company has particularly distinguished itself in the course of 2022. The jury will draw up a list of five deals from which a winner will be chosen. The most important criterion is the financial and strategic added value that the operation created for the stakeholders. The award is being presented for the fourth time.

The nominees for the 'Trends Deal of the Year 2023' are:

  • DEME
  • ETEX
  • WDP
  • Biobest
  • Stadsbader

Find out more about the deals

CF’Hope of the Year

With this new award, Trends and BNP Paribas Fortis highlight a young CFO of a promising medium-sized company that is experiencing significant growth. The jury's preference is for a CFO working in a private company controlled by Belgian capital. Key criteria include financial and management experience, strategic vision, communication skills and adaptability.

The candidates for the 'CF'Hope of the Year 2023' are:

  • Karolien Vlassenroot, CFO Caminogroup/Durabrik
  • Cecile Cornez, CFO Tilman
  • Elke Toye, CFO Vyncke

Find out more about the candidates

The winners will be announced in Brussels Expo on 24 May. Virginie Martens, Head of Corporate Coverage Belgium at BNP Paribas Fortis, is a member of the jury.

We wish all candidates the best of luck! Rewarding and encouraging people and businesses that contribute to our economy, another example of Positive Banking.

(Source: Trends)

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