7.3 Smart Industries

Across industries, companies are challenged to transform their processes towards sustainable technology and efficient applications. The B2B environment has a major need for smart and innovative services, equipment, software, systems and components. The focus in the Smart Industries platform is on innovative companies providing B2B products and services, supported by engineering or in-depth technological and technical expertise, to sectors like automotive, aerospace, industrial, ICT, manufacturing, oil & gas, electronics.

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The team had an active investment year, adding 4 new growth companies to its portfolio:

  • An investment in Arplas, a Dutch supplier of innovative metal plate welding technology, especially active in the automotive industry (see also highlight - www.arplassystems.com).
  • A majority interest in Belgian company Summa, a European leader in digital cutting machinery for the graphics industry. The company is keen to continue its geographic expansion and launch new and innovative products (www.summa.eu).
  • Gimv also acquired a 40% stake in MEGA International, a leading French software and advisory provider, which helps companies improve the flexibility of their activities and IT systems in order to innovate in today's digital world. In the coming years MEGA International will be focusing on speeding its growth in the United States, on the SaaS transformation currently underway, and on offering its product range to a broader target audience (www.mega.com).
  • Gimv took a 67% shareholding in Dutch company ALT Technologies, a leading player in airbag components. ALT Technologies is keen to grow rapidly in Asia and the United States (www.alttechnologies.com) in the coming years.

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The team also undertook 3 divestments, the most significant being the sale of Punch Powertrain, the Belgian pioneer of continuously variable transmission technology, to Chinese Yinyi group.

In March 2010, Gimv and the Gimv-managed Gimv-XL fund acquired a 46% stake in Punch Powertrain in a capital increase. With debt of EUR 20 million, a negative profitability and declining sales, the company was in troubled waters. Funding was just one aspect that Gimv was able to contribute to the company’s growth path, along with operational optimization and collaboration with management in various strategic initiatives. Examples include the technology contract with DTI and the subsequent acquisition of this company, the setting up of various funding structures, the development of strategic cooperation models with customers, development of the business plan, and bringing in the Chinese investor New Horizon Capital. Since 2010 sales have increased nearly fivefold to EUR 500 million in 2016, while headcount has risen from 210 to over 1200 FTE. The customer base and network in Asia have been expanded, and the product range widened. Today’s largest ever order book points to the increasing number of vehicles that will be produced in the coming years with Punch Powertrain transmissions, which will be the driving force behind further growth. While maintaining its commitment to innovation, the company is currently expanding its production capacity in China and Europe. Punch's growth process demonstrates the importance of investors having a thorough knowledge of the company, the market, and the opportunities that both of these offer. In August 2016, the sale to Yinyi was completed (www.punchpowertrain.com).

Together with other investors we also sold our shareholding in Dutch semiconductor company GreenPeak to Nasdaq-listed Qorvo. (www.greenpeak.com). And finally we divested Leyton, a French specialist consultancy for companies wanting to optimize their cost structures (www.leyton.com).

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Overview Smart Industries portfolio

At end-March 2017, the Smart Industries team managed 13 companies representing an amount of EUR 184 million.

CompanyActivityCountry
ALT TechnologiesLeading supplier of airbag componentsthe Netherlands
ArplasSheet metal welding for automotive sectorthe Netherlands
CoScaleSoftware solutions for IT Operations AnalyticsBelgium
CR2Financial channel management softwareIreland
EuroplasmaPlasma based nano coating solutionsBelgium
Inside SecureEmbedded security software and solutionsFrance
LuciadProvider of Geospatial Situational Awareness softwareBelgium
Mackevision3D visualization, animation and visual effectsGermany
MEGA InternationalProvider of business and IT transformation softwareFrance
OTN SystemsOptical Networks for industrial applicationsBelgium
RES SoftwareUser workspace managementthe Netherlands
SummaRoll and flatbed digital cutting machinesBelgium
ThinkstepSoftware for sustainability reportingGermany
CompanyActivityCountry
ALT TechnologiesLeading supplier of airbag componentsthe Netherlands
ArplasSheet metal welding for automotive sectorthe Netherlands
CoScaleSoftware solutions for IT Operations AnalyticsBelgium
CR2Financial channel management softwareIreland
EuroplasmaPlasma based nano coating solutionsBelgium
Inside SecureEmbedded security software and solutionsFrance
LuciadProvider of Geospatial Situational Awareness softwareBelgium
Mackevision3D visualization, animation and visual effectsGermany
MEGA InternationalProvider of business and IT transformation softwareFrance
OTN SystemsOptical Networks for industrial applicationsBelgium
RES SoftwareUser workspace managementthe Netherlands
SummaRoll and flatbed digital cutting machinesBelgium
ThinkstepSoftware for sustainability reportingGermany

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"With Gimv's international presence and expertise, we can now accelerate ArpLas System's global sales in the automotive market." Dr. K. Pieterman, CEO Arplas

Arplas_logo

 

Business profile
Arplas is a world leader in the development, installation and marketing of a patented projection welding technology, the 'ArpLas System'. Today, this welding system is used for various applications in the automotive industry by manufacturers like GM, Daimler, Audi, Volkswagen, Tesla, BMW and Fiat. In addition to its head office in Amersfoort (the Netherlands), Arplas has production and sales offices in North America and Korea, and representatives in China and Brazil.

Investment context
ArpLas System has unique features that respond to the underlying trends of the automotive industry: the system generates virtually invisible welding points on small surfaces. Compared with traditional welding techniques, it is also cheaper and more energy-efficient.

Growth strategy
Arplas wants to grow, primarily organically, in the automotive industry, by expanding with existing and new customers in existing markets. The company is also keen to draw optimal value from its innovative aluminium welding technology by applying its latest developments to the increasing number of car models and factories.

Gimv invested approximately EUR 10 million in ArpLas Systems, acquiring a majority holding alongside management, which remains a shareholder. Smart Industries' international presence and expertise (VCST, Punch Powertrain, etc.) can make a valuable contribution to ArpLas System's ambitions and sales. 

www.arplassystems.com

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