2. Message from Chairman and CEO
In 2016, the ECB’s policy of continuous money creation produced a further fall in interest rates. This resulted in increasing competition in the European mid-market private equity landscape, marked, among other things, by rising valuations. At the same time, we also see promising signs of an accelerating economy, with increasing entrepreneurial and consumer confidence, all of this, however, within a still uncertain geo-political climate.
Against this background, Gimv again posted a strong result with a profit of EUR 131.9 million.
Another very active and successful year for Gimv
We invested EUR 180 million in 11 promising new companies, across all four investment platforms. Our specialized sector knowledge and disciplined investment approach, applied together with our platform strategy, resulted in new partnerships with potential market leaders Joolz, Acceo, ALT Technologies, Summa, MEGA International, Arplas, Real Impact Analytics and promising life sciences and medtech companies Spineart, G-Therapeutics, EndoStim and Breath Therapeutics.
At the same time, market conditions remained favourable for 12 exits with a positive impact on results. Over the past year, we reaped the fruits of years of strategic growth and innovation with the sale of Punch Powertrain, Vandemoortele, Multiplicom, Altaïr/Brunel, Onedirect and GreenPeak and other investee companies. The EUR 317 million proceeds from the sale of our platform participations represent almost 3 times the initial investment.
Gimv's result was also buoyed by the strong performance of our investee companies. We are proud of the achievements of our 51 shareholdings, which last year grew their sales by 11% and EBITDA by 17%. In this way strategic growth - a keystone of our investment strategy - was again the primary driving force for successful value creation over the past year.
For the third year in a row: a strong operating profit from growth and value creation
This active investment approach, together with significant value creation in our portfolio, enable us once again to post a strong result for the 2016-2017 financial year: with a profit of EUR 131.9 million and an 11% net return, we outperformed our long-term return target for the third year in a row, putting us well on the way to fulfilling our ambition to create double-digit returns through a complete investment cycle.
These results also allow us both to reconfirm our dividend policy, and to increase our dividend to EUR 2.50 per share for the past financial year.
Sector specialization in an international context
The option we took five years ago for a sector-oriented platform strategy is now fully reflected in our organization. The financial, strategic and industrial expertise built up in this way strengthens our investment approach, and puts us on the road to long-term value creation.
Our thanks go to all who have helped us in this task: first and foremost the management teams and employees of our portfolio companies, working together with our own teams, but also the outside directors, investors, shareholders and the many other stakeholders who contribute in their different ways to this result.
Our strategy, our promising portfolio and our strong balance sheet allow us to look to Gimv's future with confidence.
Hilde Laga, Chairman and Koen Dejonckheere, CEO