The teams of Vivaldis Interim, Global Port Training, Bio Pharma Logistics, Plastiekbouw Peeters and Blommaert Aluminium realized an incredible result in 2014. Notwithstanding averse macro-economic circumstances their continuous decisiveness, efforts, creativity and innovation led to a consolidated EBITDA-growth of more than 68% growth vis-à-vis 2013.
The result is in line with the great determination and the achievements we saw during the year and it continued up until the last days of 2014. On 29 December Global Port Training completed the official set-up of its Oman subsidiary. Located in the Port of Duqm, it will allow Global Port Training to benefit from its strategic position in the Gulf-region providing a viable alternative to politically less stable neighbouring ports. It also gives further shape to the internationalization strategy for the Belgian portfolio companies of Buysse & Partners (https://www.buysse-partners.com/what-we-do/smart-equity/).
Like a “file rouge” this internationalization strategy was embedded in the analysis of new investment files. The Buysse & Partners team studied over 106 potential leads in 2014 (more than 2 per week) but none of the proposed opportunities could fully meet our criteria. Our team was further reinforced by young and eager investment professionals who made a comprehensive analysis of certain industries of the future. Based upon the results of these sector studies we have and will be pro-actively approaching the hidden champions in Belgium.
The studies also provided the framework to get a better view on disruptive business models where accelerated growth is possible. Our investment in Ancoa (www.ancoa.com) in 2014 was the perfect illustration of the possibilities in Acceleration Capital. With the official acceptance of the implementation of the Ancoa market surveillance software by the Zagreb Stock Exchange and their first transaction in the new market of regulated exchanges for OTC derivatives, Ancoa is ready for the deployment of its accelerated growth in 2015.
The macro-economic context to realize these successes however remains fragile. With the Greek crisis and, maybe even more unknown and frightening, the posture of Russia towards the rest of the world, we see a number of threats that can jeopardize growth. It is also questionable how European institutions, families and companies will deal with the continuing trend of disinflation. Nonetheless, we are convinced the current environment will also offer opportunities. The recent crash of the oil price will generate buying power and might, finally, create an environment for growth.
For Emerging Countries, the end of the “commodity supercycle” is forcing them into structural reforms. With altered political equilibriums, significant cuts in social welfare spending and continuous initiatives towards infrastructure, free trade and education, the Latin American economies are taking measures to become increasingly attractive to international investors again.
With the Latin American Growth Fund (https://www.buysse-partners.com/what-we-do/latin-america/) and the real estate projects we are pursuing in Ecuador (https://www.buysse-partners.com/what-we-do/unique-partnerships/) we are well positioned to benefit from these circumstances. The first company exposure in Latin America was realized with Mercado Eletrônico (https://www.me.com.br/) and the pipeline looks promising. Market timing, diversification and, most importantly the selection of solid local partners remain key. With these elements in mind, we are seeing some great opportunities in Chili and Colombia at present. The investment focus for the Latin American Growth Fund for the coming months will be on these Andean countries. It will also be the destination for our next investor trip.
After a successful first edition of an investor trip to Latin America (http://www.tijd.be/ondernemen/durfkapitaal/Het_koppelteken_tussen_onze_spaarboekjes_en_Zuid_Amerika.9548941-3098.art), our clear ambition is to maintain this spirit of openness and investor intimacy. We strive for active involvement of our investors. It allows investors to make a motivated decision on where to put their money at work. But first and foremost, it gives access to the local families we invest with, and this is where investors should get most comfort from.
Over the course of time, we believe this has become one of our major strengths: the identification and selection of trustworthy and solid international partners. In the future this will lead to unique and sometimes unexpected investment opportunities in markets that are “out of flavour” of mainstream investors that prefer to follow trends rather than identify them. This contrarian investment approach is only possible through a focussed and disciplined analysis of markets and trends. Direct investments and their active follow up is our metier. Our expanding international network allows us to use this for the benefit of our Belgian companies and investors.
We appreciate proximity and respect local values, but we use them on a global scale, benefiting from opportunities created by international entrepreneurs.
The latter sums up our ambition for 2015. In the spirit of investor intimacy we want to keep investing in Belgian companies and international partnerships. With this focussed approach and daily follow up, we aim to be even more successful than in 2014. In a low yielding environment we strive to provide our investors with attractive returns combined with maximal risk mitigation by thorough research, negotiations and monitoring.
As every year, the only thing remaining is to wish all of you a sterling health for the coming year, lots of fun and happiness and… successful investments. We are ready for it.
The Buysse & Partners team