During 2013, a number of Industrial Network meetings were arranged by EQT – for knowledge sharing, provoking thoughts, stimulating new ideas and discussing themes and trends relevant for the existing portfolio companies as well as for portfolio companies to come. Investment advisory professionals and Industrial Advisors from EQT engage with world leading specialists, digging deeper into contemporary issues as well as trying to predict future scenarios, secures EQT’s ability to stay ahead of the curve and find the best companies to acquire and transform into champions, well equipped for continued prosperity.
Regional conferences were held around the globe – in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Hong Kong, New York, Oslo, Stockholm and Warsaw. Sector meetings covered the Industrial, Services, Health Care and Energy & Environmental Sectors, and the latest one on TMT, focusing on the “mysteries” of big data.
Late November, around 60 participants attended the EQT 2013 TMT Sector Conference, held in a wintery Tergernsee, outside Munich. The big data opportunities and challenges were the themes and with prominent external speakers such as Sherry Coutu (entrepreneur and “angel investor” now serving on boards of companies, charities and universities), Kaustav Mitra (vice-President and Global Lead for SAP’s Startup Focus program) and Ryan Regan (founder of big data in retail analytics provider Rangespan) the perspectives were broad and discussions lively.
Anil Hansjee, EQT Industrial Advisor and Chief Investment Officer of the digital business of leading pan-European TV broadcaster Modern Times Group, kicked off a panel discussion saying: “2013 is the international year of statistics and the variety and volume of data that can be accessed and gathered today is beyond what any of us could have dreamt of only a couple of years ago. But what is the real value of all this data and even more exiting – what’s next in big data? And is big data for on-line businesses only?”
The panel consisting of Steve Midgley (Head of Amazon Web Services in Europe, Middle East and Africa), Paul-Noël Guély (Founder and Managing Partner of Armapartners), and Bernd Humke of internetstores, and Carsten Koerl of Sportradar (both EQT portfolio companies), shared their views and discussed future potentials and challenges.
“Big data emerged out of nowhere and is now not only big, it’s becoming huge. There is an exponential growth in understanding how to use large amounts of data, this will cut across everything in 5 to10 years time. Any business, service or industry will benefit from using big data, health care is just one example where the prospects are substantial”, Paul-Noël Guély stated.
“The trick is to be able to make sense of the huge amounts of data and integrate it in the business strategies”, Steve Midgley continued.
Carsten Koerl, CEO and founder of Sportradar (the world’s leading supplier of sports and betting-related data for the gambling industry), described how they develop its business by taking advantage of the big data opportunities. “For us, big data is about using the right technology tools to analyze the large amount of data, especially real time processing – automatization is key, this is the only way to process real time. And real time data is in focus for Sportradar, next step is to video track how players in games or matches behave. This is an example of how Sportradar developed a product to identify manipulation in soccer games which is now being used by several soccer leagues”.
Bernd Humke, CFO of internetstores, a multi-shop e-commerce company with a clear bike and outdoor positioning across Europe, expressed: “The data of here and now is most important to be successful in e-commerce. The challenge for internetstores is to keep the processes simple. We are grasping the big data opportunities step-by-step with clear milestones to improve usability for our teams. This guarantees a high internal acceptance of the necessary changes and ensures a very high team-motivation during the roll-out”.
The panel discussion was followed by a company presentation of Klarna, a Swedish provider of safe and easy-to-use payment solutions. Co-founder and deputy CEO Niklas Adalberth shared the Klarna-story about disruption in payments – from starting the business as a project in parallel with studies at the Stockholm School of Economics and the challenges of being a 20+ years old entrepreneur to, 8 years later, run a company with 850 employees and 12 million customers. Klarna offers a simple factory solution standing between the online shopper and the online shop which allows the buyer to received ordered goods before any payment is due.
The agenda also included in-depth presentations of the most recent EQT portfolio companies in the TMT-sector, Avenso (a leading German gallery network and online retailer for photographic art serving the contemporary photographic art market), itslearning (provider of individualized learning platforms for teachers and learners), Tampnet (Norwegian supplier of high capacity and low latency communication to off shore oil and gas installations in the North Sea) and IP-Only (Sweden based is a leading provider of high capacity fiber based data communication and datacenter services in Sweden).
“At EQT, we like fiber and believe in fiber. Today’s discussions have made it obvious that big data is becoming bigger and fiber will have a leading role in shaping the future development”, Dominik Stein, Partner at investment advisor EQT Partners in Munich and responsible for the EQT 2013 TMT Sector Conference, concluded.
EQT also hosted a breakfast meeting in November with a small group of EQT Industrial Advisors together with the investment advisory professionals in the Helsinki office. The participants were given an update by Tomas Lindén, Head of Talent Management and HR at EQT, on the “contemporary EQT” with its new structure, future funds onshore and industrial board serving as the platform which will secure continued growth and acceptance in society. Lindén also highlighted the ambitions to continue strengthening the Industrial Network across the board as a means of creating great companies and sustainable returns to the investors.
Vesa Koskinen, Director and local head at investment advisor EQT Partners in Helsinki, reviewed the recent deal activity within EQT as a whole and specifically “welcomed” Norwegian EQT portfolio company XXL to Finland. XXL is the fastest growing sporting retail goods retailer in the Nordic region with a “category killer” concept based on having the largest stores, widest assortments, lowest prices and branded products.
The EQT portfolio company Terveystalo, was presented by CEO Yrjö Närhinen. Terveystalo is the largest private provider of healthcare services in Finland, serving private customers, companies and organizations, insurance companies and the public sector through a nationwide network of 18 hospitals and 141 clinics.
Terveystalo was one of the two largest private equity deals in Finland in 2013. The other one was Delete Group, which was acquired by Axcel. (In December, Sanitec was listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange – editor’s note). “The pipe line looks promising in Finland and we are establishing relationships with additional Industrial Advisors for the EQT Industrial Network. This will support our “local with locals” strategy and strengthen the abilities to find good companies to develop in accordance with the EQT model”, concludes Vesa Koskinen.