4investors Interview with AURELIUS-CEO: “The M&A market is picking up perceptibly”
15.12.2020 (www.4investors.de) - AURELIUS Equity Opportunities SE & Co. KGaA completely repaid its 2015/20 convertible bond maturing on December 1, 2020 to the bond creditors. “Our cash situation remains very good. Even after the repayment of EUR 103.1 million, we still have liquidity in excess of EUR 300 million within the Group,” explains AURELIUS CEO Matthias Täubl in an interview with the editorial staff of www.4investors.de. Täubl adds: “Some EUR 100 million of this liquidity takes the form of cash at the holding companies and can be used for acquisitions and investments in our portfolio.” With regard to the next few months, Täubl sees “a lot of interesting acquisition candidates.” As one possibility for expanding its financing strategy, AURELIUS is also looking into co-investment funds, which can be used under the umbrella of the AURELIUS Group to address further investor groups.
www.4investors.de: The coronavirus situation is deteriorating again, Germany is going into a hard lockdown once again. To what extent might this cause setbacks to the efforts to restructure your portfolio companies?
Täubl: To date, our portfolio has proven its robust nature over the course of the COVID-19 crisis. This was also clearly demonstrated over the first nine months of 2020 in which our portfolio companies together generated a very sound operating EBITDA of EUR 100 million. It remains difficult to make more precise forecasts for the coming months in light of the situation deteriorating again and the lockdowns in various European countries. Having said that, we have already gained 15 years of experience in successfully dealing with businesses in transitional or exceptional situations and our in-house operations experts, more than 80 in the meantime, are working very closely with our Group companies. For this reason, I am very confident that we will master the challenges of the upcoming months.
www.4investors.de: Aurelius repaid the convertible bond with a residual volume of just over EUR 100 million as it matured on December 1. What is your cash situation like at the moment, taking account of the bond repayment?
Täubl: Our cash situation remains very good. Even after the repayment of EUR 103.1 million for our convertible bond at the beginning of this month, we still have liquidity of more than EUR 300 million within the Group. Adjusted for the amount repaid for the convertible bond, this amount roughly corresponds to the level seen at the end of financial year 2019.
Some EUR 100 million of this liquidity takes the form of cash at the holding companies and can be used for acquisitions and investments in our portfolio. To date, the coronavirus-related cash needs of our portfolio companies stood at around EUR 10 million, clearly down on our apprehensions at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020. I cannot rule out a new round of lockdowns and, to name one example, the associated shop closures leading to further liquidity needs in isolated cases, but I nevertheless see us in a good position to deal with such situations.
www.4investors.de: Do you have any other financing options in mind over the long run? And what kind of role might be played in this respect by the prospective involvement in co-investment funds within the Group?
Täubl: We are seeing a lot of opportunities for attractive new acquisitions in the current market environment. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis will bring about further upheavals and transitional or exceptional situations, corporate groups will dispose of underperforming and non-core divisions. This is precisely the field of business we have successfully operated in for more than 15 years. We are increasingly seeing a very attractive market segment for larger transactions and are reviewing the corresponding financing options on an ongoing basis. One possibility for expanding our financing strategy we are also reviewing relates to co-investments with funds to be issued under the umbrella of the AURELIUS Group, enabling us to address further investor groups.
www.4investors.de: As things stand, a no deal Brexit is on the horizon. What will be the implications for your UK-based investments, will there be any significant negative impact on business? And what is the position you intend to take in the UK in the future?
Täubl: For our UK portfolio companies, we anticipate only a limited impact from Brexit – whatever form it eventually takes. This is due, in part, to the fact that they only have business operations within the UK, such as our fleet management subsidiary Rivus Fleet Solutions, which is developing exceedingly well. Similarly, companies like Zentia (previously: Armstrong Ceilings Solutions) that export some of the ceilings systems they produce in the UK should be able to compensate for the potential impact from a no-deal Brexit by the expected weakening of the pound sterling.
The uncertainties associated with the ongoing Brexit discussions have brought about a situation on the UK market that remains interesting for the acquisition of companies in transitional or exceptional situations in which we intend to continue operating.
www.4investors.de: What is your transaction pipeline looking like at the moment? The end of a year is usually characterised by a high level of activity; is that also the case in 2020 or has the coronavirus environment changed everything? What prospects can you offer your investors for 2021?
Täubl: Corporate groups are rearranging themselves after the distortions caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The M&A market is picking up perceptibly. With regard to the next few months, we are seeing a lot of interesting acquisition candidates – our M&A department is correspondingly very busy at the moment. Over and above this, we are constantly reviewing attractive acquisitions for our existing portfolio companies. For this reason, I am very confident as I look forward into the New Year because for us, after all, a profitable transaction also begins with a favourable acquisition!