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Since EOS in Switzerland took over debt collection specialist Alphapay from telecoms group Swisscom, the companies have grown together. With the acquisition EOS Schweiz reinforced its industry expertise and improved its market position. As a client, Swisscom now benefits from the efficient, reputation-friendly debt collection of its former subsidiary.

When people think of Switzerland, their first thought is often of mountains or chocolate. The Swiss, however, are also known for their bold entrepreneurial spirit and technical innovation, such as the world’s longest railway tunnel of 57 kilometres under the Gotthard. Their mobile communications are just as impressive. In April 2016, the telecommunications group Swisscom was the first provider in Europe to send data at the rapid speed of one gigabit per second through the network. Swisscom is constantly striving to improve itself and its services, as a further example shows. In 2015 the Group decided to sell its debt collection service Alphapay.

‘The transaction was quite unusual, because we would no longer be the owner of the company, but still wanted to benefit from its services in receivables management,’ explains Eugen Stermetz, CFO Related Businesses at Swisscom. ‘In this situation, where Swisscom would be the seller, prospective client and former employer, EOS won us over with the most convincing offer.’ In business process outsourcing (BPO), it was not only the purchase price that counted. ‘Swisscom is a leader in customer service. Therefore, we have tough requirements for professional debt collection,’ says Martin Leuenberger, Head of Billing, Collection & Complaints. ‘We are in a competitive market. EOS deals in such a way that our former customers could become our customers again tomorrow.’

Integration experts:
Alex Schneider (left) and Michael Joho of EOS Schweiz are both experienced in the intergration of acquired companies
Satisfied:
Martin Leuenberger’s requirements are met
Challenging:
Eugen Stermetz – formerly owner, now client

Preserving long-standing employee expertise

There was yet another aspect for the seller in the foreground. ‘Alphapay has many long-standing employees of the Swisscom Group, whose future was very important to us,’ says Mr Stermetz. EOS took seriously the company’s concerns about retaining staff. ‘We have continued to employ a large part of the original workforce,’ says Alex Schneider, Managing Director and Head of Finance, HR and IT at EOS Schweiz. ‘Thanks to the great wealth of knowledge in receivables management for the telecommunications sector, we were able to strengthen our industry expertise.’ At the same time, EOS increased its market share by acquiring the number two in the Swiss debt collection market. Since April 2015 the two companies have grown closer.

‘EOS has a wealth of experience in the acquisition and integration of receivables management units from corporations that want to focus on their core business,’ says Michael Joho, Managing Director, Head of Commercial and Operations at EOS Schweiz. The experts at EOS know that a BPO brings the desired success only if it manages to succeed in integrating the acquired business unit as smoothly as possible into the new owner’s organisation. Therefore, the employees of EOS Schweiz and Alphapay shared their expertise from the beginning and took over company-wide common tasks. ‘Some teams such as accounting, financial control and judicial debt collection have been working together under joint management since the purchase,’ says Mr Joho. EOS held workshops to inform new employees about the brand and its values. ‘Now we involve all employees in the creation of a shared corporate culture,’ says Mr Schneider.

KNOWING
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Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1847–1922), Scottish speech therapist, inventor and businessman. After he immigrated to the United States, he received a patent for the telephone in 1876. He succeeded in making the telephone suitable for the masses.

One site, one name

Another milestone was reached when Alphapay moved from its location in Zurich to a base in Kloten, the location of EOS Schweiz, in June. The new employees were greeted with a ‘Welcome Day’, shown around the building and given some team training. At lunch, they got the opportunity to get to know new and longstanding employees personally before they began working together. In such close proximity, all teams have now managed to get to know each other even more closely. Beyond this: ‘As of June, we share a common name: EOS Schweiz,’ says Mr Schneider. Finally, in 2017, the parts of the company located in the French-speaking area of Switzerland will be combined to share a single location.

Despite all the attention given to the acquisition, EOS did not neglect its day-to-day business. ‘Operations were assured from the first moment,’ says Mr Leuenberger. For the future, he expects further benefits for Swisscom. ‘Thanks to the international network of the EOS Group, we were able to raise our success rate in international debt collection.’ Finally, the cooperation between buyer and seller is just beginning. There is still plenty of room for more innovation.

Photo at the top: Visible link: EOS Schweiz and Alphapay are developing a common corporate culture.