The BeNeLux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg) seems so similar to Germany that a lot of people assume there are no cultural differences. We advise companies and individuals from the BeNeLux and Germany with their business operations abroad and realised that the cultural differences are bigger than once thought. A lot of issues could arise from these differences. As soon as you figure what they are, most of the time you can solve any issues, or as a client of us said, the perfect business is a mix between the pragmatism and thinking-out-of-a-box approach of the BeNeLux and the hard working and structuredness approach.
I suppose other countries are only interested in cash while we in Germany are the only ones with morals (laughs). As I said before, Saudi Arabia and Germany were very close, but this has changed recently. In Germany, the rules around best practise are fairly strict compared to most countries and human rights have become an important issue. But you have to remember that this also works to an investor’s favour. These strict rules protect businesses against malpractice that you often find in other countries.
In Germany, UBO is very big and due diligence is now far more detailed with questions about the political systems in the MENA region. For example, we used to be a very big business partner with Saudi Arabia, but in the past few months relations have dropped because of the human rights issues. As a consequence, there may well be problems for German investors into many of those countries in the region.