A word from our Chairman and CEO
The turbulent state of financial markets since 2008 - with a debt crisis followed by a financial-economic crisis - has revealed a number of underlying trends. Trends that are changing the economy, but which also offer opportunities to companies that are able to respond appropriately to them.
“Global trends inspire our strategic choices”
A first trend arises from the fact that the aggressive use of debt has proven toxic. Companies today must have stronger capital bases and need once again to distinguish themselves with genuine growth.
A second trend relates to the steadily globalising market environment. The new growth countries represent an increasingly large share of the growth of the global economy. Apart from increased competition, the positive results are rising standards of living in the growth countries, increased consumption and emerging new markets. These will inevitably place heavy pressure on key resources like energy, materials, water and food. This is both a challenge and a great opportunity, requiring solutions to be developed in which sustainability will take a central place.
Our world is becoming not only more global and more sustainable, but also smarter. Think of the smart phone, the smart vehicle, smart energy grid, etc. This is an important trend in which, through intelligent applications, companies will create new market segments with interesting, smart applications for businesses and consumers.
Gimv must keep in touch with these trends, respond to them with its strategy and assist its portfolio companies in their economic transformation so as to come out stronger from the process. This will enable both Gimv and its portfolio companies to optimise their growth and profitability in the short and also and in particular in the long term.
In defining more precisely Gimv's future strategy, 'growth' is our primary focus. In an uncertain economic climate and with declining funding possibilities, growth becomes the main lever for value creation. We at Gimv will be looking more than ever for high performance growth companies that respond to the above-mentioned trends and can speed up their internal growth through acquisitions. Companies thus in new growth sectors such as medtech, cleantech, biopharma etc. But also companies that are outstandingly positioned to take advantage of the new growth markets.
In these markets Gimv profiles itself as a professional and reliable partner, supporting its portfolio companies actively and committedly on their transformation paths. Many times these paths call for a more focused strategy or for optimizing organisational structures and core processes in the light of new strategic choices. The ultimate goal is always better and stronger business, creating attractive value for the company itself and for Gimv.
Gimv too must adapt to these new trends, and transform itself into a global, specialist private equity player with a balanced portfolio of performing growth companies. Our organisation is pan-European, but Gimv's knowledge and culture need to extend beyond Europe's borders. These do not decrease our local anchoring, quite the contrary. By further internationalising our knowledge and culture, we will be ever better placed to accompany our portfolio companies in the rapidly changing global economy. The success of our investments is and remains the priority task of Gimv. By broadening our horizons, we are working to ensure Gimv’s lasting success.
2011-2012 Look back at an eventful year
The past year started very well with excellent operational performances by our portfolio companies and a high transaction level - both new investments and divestments. Then came the euro crisis in summer 2011, throwing a spanner into the works. Economic uncertainty, continuing financial market volatility and the slowdown in world growth forced us to be more cautious and selective in our investment decisions.
Meanwhile, the financial activities of the European Central Bank and the cost-cutting efforts of the various European governments are reviving the financial markets’ confidence. Nevertheless, our economic environment remains challenging and growth perspectives continue to be uncertain. Gimv made good use of this slightly improved stock market climate in the last quarter to support IPOs by a number of portfolio companies. This makes them less dependent for their growth on scarce financial resources from venture capital firms.
In 2011-2012 Gimv achieved good cash results despite the lower market valuation, thereby demonstrating its ability to withstand the crisis as a pan-European investment company. As in past years, Gimv intends to pay its shareholders an attractive dividend. This year it has also decided to offer a stock dividend option.
In this foreword - and especially in these times - a word of thanks is fitting and due. Thank you to all our stakeholders - our employees, our investors and shareholders, the management teams and employees of our portfolio companies - for their enthusiasm, their commitment and solid confidence. Thank you also to Herman Daems, who retired this year as chairman, along with a number of directors who have applied their skills to making Gimv what it is. Herman has been an inspiring architect, not only for Gimv, but for the private equity and venture capital model in general. As a driving force and an ambassador, he laid the foundations that have enabled Gimv to grow in a sustainable way, with solid values and the flexibility to respond to new challenges. An example that inspires.
Urbain Vandeurzen and Koen Dejonckheere