With a financial injection by daughter Belron the D’Ieteren Group seems to prepare itself for the big takeover. But CEO Axel Miller keeps his cards close to his chest /Belga
Car glazier Belron is distributing a dividend of 450 million euro. Main beneficiary is owner D’Ieteren (95 per cent). On top of that Belron pays off a loan of 180 million euro to D’Ieteren.
The distribution of this super dividend should accelerate the change at D’Ieteren. But the strategy of the listed group remains unclear. Analysts expect a ‘major’ takeover soon.
Last May D’Ieteren announced the sale of a minority part of 40 per cent in Belron, parent company of Carglass, responsible for half of its turnover and three quarters of its profits. According to press agency Reuters three American investment groups are bidding.
By adding debts to the books before finding a partner, the future minority shareholder has to pay less, what should facilitate the search. With the operation Belron also refinances its relatively expensive debt (4,4 per cent) and becomes independent, what makes it ready for sale.
According to Degroof Petercam the payback off the loan, the super dividend and the potential sale of 40 per cent of the Belron-parts should add 1,6 billion euro to the already impressive amount of cash ready for the acquisition of a third branch.
For five years D’Ieteren is looking for a third cornerstone, next to Volkswagen importer D’Ieteren Auto and Belron. Last year there was the surprise takeover of Moleskine, but the Italian notebook producer hardly brings any turnover or synergy. The recent ‘fill-up’ at Belron is a sign that D’Ieteren is ready for the big one.
It remains unclear what the precise strategy of CEO Axel Miller is. Miller, known as the undertaker of the Dexia bank and notorious for his hunger for deals, earlier underlined that D’Ieteren is not exclusively an automotive group.
Insiders think the nature of the new business is less important than the financial health and the growth potential, even for a company with a more than 200 year automotive tradition.
“Their idea looks more like the management of the D’Ieteren family’s money in the long term. The company is starting to look like a conglomerate”, says analyst Nathalie Debruyne of Degroof Petercam.
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