Unified European Community Holds Promise of Opportunity for U.S

Article excerpt

Just over four years ago, I began an investment banking firm for small- to medium-sized privately owned companies. The firm's original focus was arranging leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations. However, within months the credit crunch was in full bloom, and the flow of deals slowed to a trickle. In the face of uncertain domestic financial markets, we decided to look beyond our shores.

While our firm has assumed a fair number of debt financings and acquisitions for U.S. clients, our greatest success has come from the ever-expanding European marketplace. Europe has 350 million consumers--a market larger than the United States and Japan combined. The unifying European market beckons American firms brave enough to grow and discover new markets, alliances, and opportunities.

Many private, middle-market U.S. firms possess the technology and business smarts needed to succeed in Europe. Too many American business-people still believe only large companies are positioned to profit. Now, smaller firms can exploit to their advantage the readjustments taking place in core European industries and services.

Rather than being swallowed up as the global economy matures, American businesses are forming strategic alliances and joint ventures with European firms. These European companies are eager to acquire advanced technology and industrial processes, the latest in marketing and distribution techniques, and a relatively inexpensive entry to American markets.

We are not naive enough to neglect certain potential pitfalls: Eastern Europe might not "pull its weight" for some time; no region of Europe is a true "low cost" haven for labor and materials; and, centuries of fear and loathing between European Community nations.

The European Community continues to strive toward and refine its common market goals. Whatever the final outcome, Europe will never be the same. Its historically fragmented markets are destined to be replaced by an exciting, dynamic marketplace.

The welcome mat is also being set out by European governments and financial institutions. …