German consultancy P3 Group splits into Umlaut & P3
The founders of the P3 Group are parting ways: The global management consultancy and engineering company from Germany will operate under two umbrella companies in future. However, the electromobility business will remain with P3.
The P3 Group is a German success story and emerged from RWTH Aachen University. In 2018 the group had over 4,000 employees and branches in more than 20 countries. Strictly speaking, the splitting of the P3 Group with its active subsidiaries in the automotive, mobile communications and aerospace business has been coming a long time ago. It took place at the beginning of the year.
But it is only now in October that Umlaut AG, the new company name for that part of the company that focuses mainly on mobile communications and aviation, is launched. “I am relieved,” says Christoph Theis (on the right in photo), one of three P3 founders from 1996. Also, because the confusion that arose partly in front of customers is finally being resolved. In an interview with electrive.net, he makes it clear that the Stuttgart-based P3 Group, which specialises in the automotive and software business, will retain the P3 brand – even the well-known subsidiaries such as P3 Automotive and P3 Digital Services will continue to work under the old name. The Aachen section, on the other hand, has a new brand identity and is now operating as a stock corporation under the name Umlaut. The website of the new holding just went live.
A circumstance that simplified the division considerably: The individual subsidiaries of the group had already operated independently of each other in the past. “The competencies of the two companies are usually easily separable. Electric mobility or Android Automotive, for example, is our topics,” says Markus Hackmann (second from right), Managing Director of P3 Automotive. But there are also areas where he and his team are now in direct competition with their former colleagues. “An unusual and for many of us also an unwanted feeling,” admits Hackmann, an expert in the battery business.
Even Lars Karsten can’t hide a “certain competitive situation” when talking to electrive.net. At the same time, he makes it clear: “The division of the company was discussed in partnership. In the future, Umlaut AG also wants to get involved in electromobility and, for example, use its comprehensive mobile phone data for the location analysis of charging infrastructure. Other engineering contracts or the testing of billing systems are also of interest. As one of three Umlaut board members, Lars Karsten will be responsible for the brand and personnel in the future. Thomas Prefi, like Christoph Theis one of the founders of P3, serves as Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
When it comes to the reasons behind the split, all parties remained vague. In the end, it was probably about one group striving for the international capital market and the other wanting to continue as a family business with a start-up feel. Says Christoph Theis: “We struggled hard for two years to stay together. But in the end, it was clear that the differences could not be bridged.”
Umlaut had completed a generation change and created the conditions to enter the international capital market. With P3, however, Theis wants to focus on “continuity and passing on the company to its employees”. “That simply didn’t work out,” said Theis. Theis explains the fact that the separation was mostly silent in the end as follows: “We left the subsidiaries as they are – and only assigned them to one of the two new holding companies. Because the music plays in our subsidiaries and the holding always had only administrative purposes, it wasn’t very complicated.”
With its subsidiaries P3 Automotive, P3 Digital Services and P3 Security Consulting, Theis wants to continue to focus on electromobility, software development and project management. “We continue to offer our customers the full range of services and the same contacts,” he makes clear. With around 1,000 employees, they are the smaller part, but after the “unwanted” split, they found themselves “in the new setup quickly and very well”. “We are more agile and culturally very real again. It feels like a liberation,” says Theis.
Nevertheless, the separation doesn’t leave him cold: “I think and feel as the founder of the entire P3. And that will always be the case”. He wishes the “other part”, the Umlaut AG, “a successful future”.
>> Reporting by Peter Schwierz.