I was both pleased and proud to become your Group CEO on December 2, 2022. Having spent most of my career in banking, including 14 years at BPCE as CEO of Natixis, then as Chairman of Groupe BPCE’s Executive Board, I am now particularly proud to join a group with a 300-year history and strong ties to the corporate world.
During the next few weeks, I will work closely with your Supervisory Board and the Wendel team and devote myself to setting out a specific strategic orientation for Wendel over the coming years. It would be premature to go into more detail at this stage, but I would like to share some of my initial convictions with you.
The first of these is that Wendel has a sound foundation, beginning with its people, without whom no company can be viable for so many years. During these few weeks of observation, I have been able to get a feeling for your company’s high-quality talent, both on the investment team and in the corporate functions.
Similarly, the portfolio is made up of high-quality companies with sound finances, managed by talented executives. The portfolio has been refocused over the last five years, giving us a sound balance sheet and real financial flexibility. Thanks to these excellent fundamentals, we can look forward to Wendel’s future with confidence.
Wendel’s business model is well-equipped to face the uncertain times sparked by rising inflation and tightening monetary policy. We have significant cash, and our debt has been reduced practically to zero, giving us a lot of room for maneuver to take advantage of opportunities.
It is at times like these that the “Wendel model” comes into its own, and I am confident that our long-term investor philosophy, based on permanent capital supported by the Wendel family, will prove itself once again. This unique approach sets us apart from private equity funds, which are more exposed to short-term constraints and interest-rate increases. It strengthens our competitive advantage in moments of uncertainty and volatility such as the one we are now experiencing.
It is therefore with full confidence that I am beginning my term as CEO, in which I will remain faithful to Wendel’s centuries-old values, and I will devote all my energies and skills to a successful continuation of the work to redeploy the portfolio and create value for all stakeholders.
Lastly, it will be my pleasure throughout my term as CEO to maintain a high-quality dialogue with all shareholders.
I wish you all an excellent 2023.