When Wendel published its full-year results on March 16, I presented the Group’s new strategic direction, approved by your Supervisory Board.
This strategic direction is based on four fundamentals:
1/ Accelerate the investment strategy, with the goal of investing c. €2 billion over the next two years, through initial, unitary investments of €300-600 million, principally by taking majority stakes in unlisted companies.
2/ Strengthen our role as an active shareholder in our portfolio companies, with value creation as our guiding light.
3/ Develop a new, third-party asset management arm, by leveraging our potentially strengthened investment team. This is a natural extension of our investment activity. It will enable us to generate a new source of earnings and expand the scope of our investments. We will take the time necessary to build out this new business in which Wendel has many strong cards to play and which promises to create value.
in particular through a clear dividend policy.
This is an ambitious strategy, and we will detail the roadmap in the coming months.
On March 22, we started increasing our available resources with our successful bond issue, exchangeable into Bureau Veritas shares. This transaction has given us €750 million in additional liquidity. It also demonstrates our confidence in Bureau Veritas’s value creation potential. We have been Bureau Veritas’s core shareholder for more than 25 years, and we have a strong commitment to Hinda Gharbi and her team in their efforts to step up value creation.
Another important event in line with our strategy was our April 17 announcement that we had entered into exclusive negotiations with a view to acquiring the Scalian group, a European leader in digital transformation consulting, project management and operational performance. We plan to invest €550 million in equity alongside the management team so as to hold a significant majority stake in the share capital of the company. We are looking forward to welcoming a company of Scalian’s caliber to support it in its new step of its journey, working alongside its skilled teams. Wendel will be an active partner for Scalian, contributing its recognized expertise in developing global leaders in business services, through both organic and external growth.
The first few months of the year saw significant developments for our portfolio companies as well, with major acquisitions carried out by Constantia Flexibles (Drukpol Flexo in March and Lászlópack in
early April) and Stahl (ICP Industrial Solutions Group). Wendel Growth, our investment platform dedicated to fast-growing companies, meanwhile made three direct investments (Tadaweb, Brigad and Preligens).
We will propose a dividend of €3.20 per share at the June 15, 2023 Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, representing an increase of 6.7% compared with last year. This amount represents 1.9% of the Net Asset Value per share of your Company, in line with our new goal of distributing on average 2% of NAV, while keeping NAV at least stable on an annual basis. It will enable us to offer you an attractive yield while maintaining a level of debt compatible with an Investment Grade financial rating.
After these first four months leading your company, I am more confident than ever that our long-term investment model is the right one, even more so in today’s volatile and turbulent environment. Wendel is an excellent position to take advantage of opportunities and use its new strategic direction to launch this new phase of development.
Group CEO of Wendel