Macroeconomic uncertainty increased across the world in 2015. The falling oil price and uncertainty about the situation in China were two of the factors that contributed to this. The divide in the Norwegian economy also became more pronounced than before, with a slowdown in the oil sector occurring at the same time as other industries, particularly exporting and consumer-oriented businesses, performed better.
Ferd Capital again experienced intense competition for new investment opportunities in 2015, and anticipates that this will continue to be the case.
2015 was an eventful year for many of our portfolio companies:
- 2015 was another challenging year for Aibel due to a further decline in activity levels and cost-cutting across the industry. At the same time, Aibel completed existing projects successfully and despite the demanding market conditions saw record order inflows of approximately NOK 20 billion.
- Interwell managed to deliver an acceptable performance in challenging market conditions.The North Sea, Europe and Asia made strong progress, while the Middle East and the USA performed less well than expected. The company completed the development phase of several new products in 2015, with significant steps taken towards commercializing the company’s solution for permanent plugging and well abandonment.
- Elopak continued its strategy for growth in 2015. Its focus on the aseptic packaging market paid off, with a high level of growth in the roll fed aseptic carton area and the commercial launch of aseptic filling machinery for dairy products. Elopak also opened its new factory in Montreal in 2015, which increases the capacity in the North American market significantly.
- Mestergruppen reported good results in 2015 thanks to its continued focus on operational efficiency. The company took several steps in 2015 to strengthen its position in the industry. Mestergruppen started a strategic collaboration on procurement and distribution with Gausdal Landhandleri and began negotiations to acquire the Byggtorget building supplies chain.
- Swix retained the top spot in the Norwegian sports industry national supplier test (Leverandørtesten) after securing first place for the first time in 2014. In August, Swix moved in to their new signature building in Lillehammer which houses their own Concept Store, Blåswixbutikken, in addition to a museum, offices, production facilities, warehouse and logistics. In 2015 Swix also took a further step towards becoming a brand house for all seasons by acquiring HardRocx, Norway's leading mountain bike company, in December.
- Servi encountered difficult market conditions in 2015 due to the slowdown in the offshore segment, particularly in new build rigs. Due to its declining order intake, Servi had to reduce its workforce in 2015 and implemented several measures to increase its competitiveness. Servi’s market share in hydraulics increased from 37.5% to 40.5% at the end of 2015.
- Ferd Capital invested in Fjord Line in November 2015. Passenger numbers increased at Fjord Line in 2015, the company has a new and reliable fleet of ferries, and there are no longer any significant disputes weighing on the company.
Ferd Capital bought a stake in the ferry company Fjord Line, and owned 38.5% of the share capital in the company at the end of 2015. In February 2016 our ownership interest increased to 44.6% through a debt to equity conversion of bonds issued by the company.
In January 2016 Ferd Capital entered into an agreement to sell TeleComputing, which it had owned for six years, to IK Investment partners, and realised a gain on the sale in excess of NOK 1 billion.
Ferd Capital maintained its ownership percentage in PGS by participating in a share issue carried out by the company in November 2015. Ferd Capital wishes to actively contribute to the development of the company.
Special Investments completed three transactions in 2015.
Ferd Special Investments became part of Ferd Capital during the first half of 2016. This is to increase its flexibility and therefore its investment capacity. Ferd Capital now has three investment mandates: private companies, listed companies, and special investments.
The Ferd Capital business area had seven employees at the end of the year, who represent a broad range of experience from Ferd and previous employment. The members of the Ferd Capital team are all able to take on a range of roles in carrying out projects to evaluate new investments and during the ownership phase of our portfolio companies.
Ferd Capital has a portfolio of strong companies that are well placed to continue to create value in 2016 and future years.
Ferd also has sizeable unused investment capacity, and will focus on working proactively with new investment opportunities, both in the form of “add-ons" to existing portfolio companies and potential new portfolio companies.