8.3 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. Think of sectors such as automotive, aerospace, industrial, oil & gas, electronics.

Starting from an understanding of underlying market trends like digitalization, resource efficiency, and an increasingly competitive market environment, the Smart Industries team wants to build strong growth stories. The sector is buzzing with activity, the technology is innovative, and the working area international.

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In the past year, the team carried out 5 divestments, including selling Xeikon (digital colour printing technology and related services, www.xeikon.com) to Flint Group. VCST (producer of precision gears for the automotive market, www.vcst.be, see below) was sold and integrated into BMT, a large international industrial group with Belgian roots, where it can fully realize its potential for expansion. Punch Powertrain (Smart Industries - known for its continuous variable transmission technology www.punchpowertrain.com) signed an agreement with the Chinese group Yinyi. It is hoped to complete this transaction in summer 2016. The R&D department, with its strong technical expertise, remains anchored in Sint-Truiden, while the growing Asian market is enabling Punch Powertrain to win more and more customers.

Within the existing portfolio, a follow-on investment was made in Mackevision (Germany, 3D-visualization, animation and visual effects www.mackevision.com). View our report on this ambitious growth story on Gimv's Youtube channel.

Overview Smart Industries portfolio

At end-March 2016, the Smart Industries team managed 13 companies representing an amount of EUR 208 million.

CompanyActivityCountry
CoScaleSoftware solutions for IT Operations AnalyticsBelgium
CR2Financial channel management softwareIreland
EuroplasmaDevelops plasma based nano coating solutionsBelgium
GreenPeakUltra low power wireless datacommunication technologythe Netherlands
Inside SecureSmartcard designFrance
LeytonConsultancy in cost optimisationFrance
LuciadProvider of Geospatial Situational Awareness softwareBelgium
Mackevision3D visualization, animation and visual effectsGermany
NomadeskOnline document management softwareBelgium
OTN SystemsOpen transport network solutionsBelgium
Punch PowertrainVariable transmission systemsBelgium
RES SoftwareUser workspace managementthe Netherlands
ThinkstepSustainability management softwareGermany
CompanyActivityCountry
CoScaleSoftware solutions for IT Operations AnalyticsBelgium
CR2Financial channel management softwareIreland
EuroplasmaDevelops plasma based nano coating solutionsBelgium
GreenPeakUltra low power wireless datacommunication technologythe Netherlands
Inside SecureSmartcard designFrance
LeytonConsultancy in cost optimisationFrance
LuciadProvider of Geospatial Situational Awareness softwareBelgium
Mackevision3D visualization, animation and visual effectsGermany
NomadeskOnline document management softwareBelgium
OTN SystemsOpen transport network solutionsBelgium
Punch PowertrainVariable transmission systemsBelgium
RES SoftwareUser workspace managementthe Netherlands
ThinkstepSustainability management softwareGermany

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VCST - producer of gears, shafts and components for the automotive industry - Belgium - Gimv sold its stake in 2016

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"From financial restructuring to industrial growth project"

Profile
VCST is a global supplier of precision gears and other critical components for the engines, transmissions and brake systems of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. The company has a diversified portfolio of blue-chip customers, including Audi, Caterpillar, Continental, Cummins, DAF, General Motors, Punch Powertrain, and Volkswagen. Worldwide, the company has five plants (Belgium, China, Germany, Mexico and Romania), which over the last three years alone invested more than 50 million. An extensive in-house engineering capacity (120 engineers) makes VCST very strong in terms of product development, innovation and project realizations. With 1 250 (full-time) employees, the company generated in 2015 sales of EUR 169 million (nearly doubled since 2009).

Investment context
With collapse of the automotive market in the wake of the previous financial crisis, VCST found itself in trouble in 2008: heavily indebted with an urgent need to strengthen its balance sheet structure. Together with Gimv and LRM, VCST's stakeholders developed a completely new financial structure, allowing the company - in combination with various capital increases - to again focus on growing its business.

Growth strategy
In addition to nursing the balance sheet back to health, the company worked on further internationalization to meet increasing demand from emerging markets. The company opened new plants in China (2011) and Romania (2013), while expanding its customer base with important reference OEMs like Audi/Porsche and Cummins. The company focused on product innovation, while a new CEO was successfully found.

In March 2016, Gimv, together with the other shareholders, sold its stake in VCST to BMT, an international industrial group with Belgian roots, which will place VCST in one division together with its subsidiary IG Watteeuw International (IGW). VCST's current management will play a a driving and guiding role in the new VCST/IGW combination. www.vcst.be

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