Wendel cuts in its holdings

The investment company sold more than € 1 billion in assets and halved the number of its holdings. The value of its portfolio fell by 16.4%.

André François-Poncet and Bernard Gauthier, chairman of the management board and number two at Wendel, have announced a share buyback program.

Half of its holdings sold in 2018, Wendel says it is ready to face more difficult times in the unlisted in 2019. “Honestly, I thought that a new crisis would break out last year. We each lived through the crisis of 2007 and, in two weeks, in the summer, the music suddenly stopped ”, declared its chairman of the management board, André François-Poncet, after announcing a decline of 16.4% in the value of the holding’s holdings (revalued net assets). “The time has not yet come, but there are many geopolitical risks and Brexit is unmanned. “

Taking into account the acquisition prices “From 15 to 16 times the EBITDA, whereas the same files did not exceed 10 times a few weeks ago”, the holding has in fact mainly sought to sell its own, said Bernard Gautier, number two of Wendel. The holding company sold assets worth € 1 billion, including 4.73% of its flagship, Bureau Veritas (€ 400 million). And, in February, it also announced the divestiture of 40% of the US security services company, Allied Universal.

IHS IPO still under consideration

This refocusing on seven participations for a total of assets of 6.8 billion euros contributed to the drop in the group’s net income by more than 47%, to 280.4 million euros. The holding company, which is 37.6% owned by the three hundred year old family, also advances non-recurring items, including asset impairment charges and a foreign exchange loss of 34.5 million euros related to the debts of IHS and Stahl. . It is also engaged in a debt restructuring of 250 million euros with the banks of Cromology, the professional paint company.

Wendel sees despite the end of the tunnel in Africa, after the release of the bank accounts of its stake in IHS, a telecom tower operator in Nigeria. Once the environment on exchange rates is clearer, the IPO project could be relaunched. “We continue to work on all the options. There is no concrete project, but 80% of telecom towers are listed on the stock exchange ”, noted Stéphane Bacquaert, CEO in Africa at Wendel.

Priority to investments in Europe and the United States

The investment company does not envisage any major new investments on the African continent, its executives said, but it will invest 750 million euros this year in North America and Europe with partners. The stock remained stable despite the announcement of a € 200 million share buyback program.