Entrepreneurs Forever 2015 | Version française

Jacques Mignot

Chairman of Neftys Pharma

He builds his own European distribution group for veterinary products.

To create one of the biggest players in the sales of veterinary products in France, whilst still remaining independent, Jacques Mignot pulled every lever of strategy and finance. Spin-off, build-up, LBO and OBO held no secrets for him, and gave Neftys Pharma the means to go European very rapidly.
With his studies in economy topped off with an MBA from EMLYON, he imagined he would be a General Manager some day.
After a first sprint with Renault Trucks, he harnessed his sales techniques as Regional Manager. But he had itchy feet, and the company, which was undergoing drastic restructuring, offered few possibilities for short-term promotion. « I didn't feel like waiting before I could progress »

He joined the stables of Mercuri International, as a consultant in Sales & Marketing. « It was very fulfilling to work on such varied business cases, but I needed something more concrete. »

I can still remember a moment which was really wonderful on an intellectual and personal level, when I sealed the deal for the capital operation to increase my shares to 52%! I felt the fresh light breeze of freedom!

In 1981, the pharmaceutical distributor OCP offered him the job as Site Manager. The experience of managing a profit centre hit the target. « That really suited me; it was an excellent learning experience. »
In 1987, he launched the veterinarian subsidiary Véto Santé, which was so successful that he took on board the 800 staff from the complementary activities of OCP.

He shed his first skin in 1990; a training course in general management consolidated his financial know-how, which was to serve him well some years later.
The take-over of OCP by a German group in 1994, with a very financially oriented approach by this new shareholder, together with the progressive reorganisation of the company encouraged him to fly higher. « I could have continued my career in a big group with lots of perks, but I had in mind a project I wanted to create, to develop and to sustain. »

And in 1997 came the metamorphosis. His boss tried to stop him from leaving, but Jacques Mignot was as determined as a tiger. « I ended up telling him: please do me a favour, stop talking to me about pay rises. »
He began chasing after two rabbits when he acquired Véto Santé, as well as another of its competitors. To do this, he set up an ambitious financial plan with four investment funds, whilst accepting to be a minority partner himself.
The first year of operation was difficult, the results were not good enough, and the relationship with bankers became strained, so he had to take the bull by the horns and give his own personal bank guarantee. « This was totally unreasonable. »
One swallow ends up by indeed making the spring, and in 2002, Neftys Pharma carried out a secondary LBO, in which Jacques Mignot became a majority partner. « It was a high performance, but very risky, business plan. » Three years later, he bought out the shares of another partner, and so owned 90% of the company capital.

Just like a busy beaver, until 2011, he structured, transformed, invested. « But we had to reach the critical size. » In order to finance acquisitions, he accepted a reduction to 54%. « I got carried away by the pleasure of complex financial plans: the economic challenge, imagination, hard negotiations, adrenaline… »

Today there are 120 people in Netfys Pharma, with five subsidiaries for the distribution of medicine and food supplements for animals in breeding farms, as well as pets. The group has built its nest in France, but not yet on a European level.

So now it is time to migrate: Jacques Mignot's eldest son is like a fish in water in international business, and has been assigned the job of finding future acquisitions.

EM Lyon: MBA1976
Photo credit: studios Harcourt
Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC
Date de parution : 01/06/15