EQT AB (publ) Year-end Report 2021
Building on our strengths
“While the pandemic continued to impact our lives throughout 2021, vaccines were developed and rolled out at a record pace. Geopolitical tensions loomed, but we also saw nations come together to agree to the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26. Market conditions were conducive, but we are seeing possible signs of a softer macro environment.
Against this backdrop, EQT has continued to build on its strengths and delivered the best year in its history on almost every metric. Our growth journey is evident in the figures for the full year, as well as in our ambitions going forward. Throughout the year, we invested in talent globally to future-proof EQT and returns. We also strengthened our sustainability and impact efforts, raising the bar when it comes to delivering on our purpose – to future-proof companies and make a positive impact.
Value creation was strong across all our strategies, and we returned a record amount of capital to our clients. Fundraising remained active throughout 2021, with the final close of EQT IX and EQT Infrastructure V, along with a number of new fundraisings being initiated. The deployment pace was high as we continued to source investments based on our thematic investment approach. We also strengthened our ability to back companies from early stage to the long term, while remaining solely focused on active ownership strategies – where we can leverage EQT’s platform and drive transformation.
Developing our strategies
Within our Private Capital segment, we have built on our strengths as one of the few private markets players globally to invest in leading companies from venture to mature – a set-up which is proving powerful. Take the food delivery specialist Wolt, for example, where EQT Ventures first invested in 2016, supporting the company in becoming one of the largest European private tech companies. In early 2021, EQT Growth supported Wolt as part of its growth financing round, a clear demonstration of EQT’s ability to back companies as they develop and expand. Late last year, EQT Ventures and EQT Growth signed an agreement to sell Wolt to DoorDash.
In November, EQT announced the acquisition of Life Sciences Partners (LSP), a leading European life sciences venture capital firm with approximately EUR 2.2 billion of assets under management. LSP further strengthens EQT’s position as one of the leading and most active private markets investors in the healthcare sector. LSP’s highly experienced team complements EQT’s existing knowledge base within life sciences, expanding EQT’s ability to support companies at the forefront of innovation in the healthcare sector.
We also launched EQT Future, an impact-driven longer hold strategy. All of EQT’s strategies are guided by our purpose to future-proof companies and to make a positive impact. With EQT Future, we set out to raise the bar. The fund adopts an impact framework where part of the carried interest is tied to impact-linked KPIs.
EQT IX has continued to source thematic investments and is 75-80% invested. Yesterday, we set the target size for EQT X at EUR 20.0 billion.
Within Real Assets, the combination with Exeter created a scaled global leader in value-add real estate, with a highly thematic investment approach. EQT Exeter has an exceptional performance track-record with a demonstrated ability to build attractive real estate portfolios. In November, EQT Exeter for example completed one of the largest industrial real estate portfolio sales in US history.
Next, we are looking to extend our Infrastructure offering. We recently set the target fund size for EQT Active Core Infrastructure - a new thematic longer-hold strategy.
In addition, we have continued to strengthen our presence and capabilities in the APAC region, with senior recruitments to our new offices in Korea and Japan, building on our local-with-locals approach.
We continue to selectively evaluate potential acquisition opportunities to strengthen our position or our geographic presence, and we will continue to support our new fund initiatives by committing capital from the EQT AB balance sheet.
EQT has made further progress in improving sustainability in our own business as well as at the EQT funds’ portfolio companies. For example, we have set ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, encompassing the EQT funds’ portfolio companies as well as our own platform. These will form a central part of our active ownership strategy and climate-related value-creation drivers. In taking this step, we became the first private markets firm in the world to formalize science-based targets, as part of the Science Based Targets initiative.
In addition, EQT became the first private equity firm to launch a sustainability-linked bond, where the coupon is linked to sustainability performance targets within climate and diversity, both within the EQT AB Group and at the EQT funds’ portfolio companies.
Society faces a number of longer-term challenges – diseases such as the coronavirus, an aging population and the climate emergency. To solve global challenges such as these, capital and new solutions will be required. Being a purpose-driven investor and owner, we are confident that EQT has a strong foundation to transform industries to tackle and alleviate these problems. Clearly, this will take some time, but we have started, and we are accelerating our efforts.
Over the past year, we have continued to make investments, across all strategies, closely linked to the UN sustainable development goals. EQT Ventures is for example backing Einride, specializing in electric and self-driving trucks; EQT IX acquired thinkproject, providing software to help reduce waste in the building sector; and in our Infrastructure business line, decarbonization and electrification has been a key theme in recent investments such as First Student, Molslinjen and Torghatten.
In line with EQT Exeter’s commitment to sustainability, 22 million square feet of newly constructed properties – part of its recent USD 6.8 billion industrial portfolio sale – was equipped with the newest renewable design features in the industry.
Digitalization is a core part of our sustainability agenda. It’s fascinating how companies can do more with less through innovative digital solutions. We continue to invest both in our sustainability and digital transformation teams, being an integral part of EQT’s value creation toolbox. EQT’s proprietary AI-powered tool, Motherbrain, is being rolled out across the EQT platform and the more we use it, the sharper it gets. So far, Motherbrain has supported EQT Ventures in identifying 14 investments.
In some ways, it has been a solid year for our industry, with increasing asset prices, attractive financing conditions, and a continued long-term shift in capital allocations towards private markets. Meanwhile, market uncertainty remains, with rising energy costs, geopolitical unrest, supply chain disruptions, higher inflation and rising interest rates. A significant deterioration in market conditions would likely slow down investment and exit activity, and impact valuations.
EQT continues to create resilient portfolios by investing in secular trends such as automation, big data, digitalization, e-commerce, sustainability, and urbanization, rather than businesses that are dependent on the business cycle. We remain disciplined in our investment approach, focusing on companies where we have clear value-creation plans.
In addition to future-proofing our portfolio companies, we remain focused on ensuring that our own organization is continuously improved and built on a long-term foundation. For example, in September, we revised the share lock-up structure for those who were partners at the time of our initial public offering in 2019. The new structure nearly doubled the lock-up duration and allowed us to further strengthen the alignment with our clients through significant fund investment commitments being made by the partner group. Liquidity in the EQT AB share has nearly doubled since the revision was effected.
The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (SFSA) is evaluating EQT’s handling of information in connection with the lock-up revision and related partners’ sale of shares - more specifically the timing of announcement and certain documentary requirements. We remain confident that we handled the information correctly. We are of course assisting the SFSA in their review, and we are awaiting their decision.
We will continue to future-proof the EQT platform – making sure we have the right competencies, processes, and strategies to be able to continue to scale our business. Investing with a purpose to have a positive impact; pursuing active ownership strategies where we can build, develop and transform businesses; and ensuring that EQT itself is sustainable, not just over the coming year, but over the next decade and beyond.
The returns we deliver today are the result of hard work, investments and decisions taken over many years. In order to continue to future-proof our returns, we always need to invest and develop as investors and owners. We need to stay ahead of the curve. We need to raise the bar. Always, and at all times.”
CEO and Managing Partner
Highlights for the period Jan-Dec 2021 (Jan-Dec 2020)
• Adjusted total revenue amounted to EUR 1,623m (EUR 762m), corresponding to an increase of 113% compared to 2020. Total revenue (according to IFRS) was EUR 1,596m (EUR 709m). The increase was primarily driven by management fees from EQT Infrastructure V and EQT IX, management fees from EQT Exeter and carried interest from EQT VIII
• Adjusted EBITDA amounted to EUR 1,100m (EUR 385m), corresponding to a margin of 68% (51%). EBITDA (according to IFRS) was EUR 970m (EUR 340m), corresponding to a margin of 61% (48%)
• Adjusted net income amounted to EUR 989m (EUR 330m). Net income (according to IFRS) was EUR 909m (EUR 283m)
• Adjusted basic earnings per share amounted to EUR 1.011 (EUR 0.346). Adjusted diluted earnings per share amounted to EUR 1.010 (EUR 0.346). Reported basic earnings per share amounted to EUR 0.928 (EUR 0.297). Diluted earnings per share amounted to EUR 0.928 (EUR 0.297)
• Financial net cash amounted to EUR 88m (EUR 878m) impacted i.a. by the consideration paid for Exeter
• EQT completed the combination with Exeter Property Group on 1 April 2021, which is now integrated with EQT Real Estate under the joint EQT Exeter brand. The combination positions EQT among the largest value-add real estate investment managers in the world
• EQT AB Group, as the first private markets firm in the world, issued a sustainability-linked bond, raising EUR 500m
• EQT launched a new impact-driven longer-hold strategy - EQT Future
• EQT became the first private markets firm to set science based targets (”SBTs”), formalizing its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in line with the 1.5°C pathway described in the Paris Agreement
• EQT AB announced that it has prolonged the EQT AB Partners’ IPO share lock-up period, alongside a partial lock-up release, nearly doubling the lock-up duration. The EQT AB Partners committed to re-invest 50% of net proceeds from the lock-up release in EQT funds
• EQT signed an agreement to acquire LSP (Life Sciences Partners), a leading European life sciences venture capital firm with approximately EUR 2.2 billion of assets under management (AUM). LSP will strengthen EQT’s position as one of the leading private markets investors in the healthcare sector. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2022
• EQT continues to selectively evaluate potential acquisition opportunities to strengthen its position or its geographic presence
• Assets under management (AUM) increased to EUR 73.4bn (EUR 52.5bn), primarily driven by the combination with Exeter with AUM of EUR 9.0bn at the time of closing and by incremental commitments in EQT Infrastructure V
• EQT Infrastructure V, EQT IX and EQT Exeter Europe Logistics Value IV held final closes at EUR 15.7bn, EUR 15.6bn and EUR 2.1bn in AUM, respectively
• Fundraising continued for EQT Growth, EQT Future and various EQT Exeter funds, including EQT Exeter US Industrial Core-Plus IV. Preparations for EQT X, EQT Active Core Infrastructure, EQT Ventures III and new EQT Exeter funds, including EQT Exeter US Industrial Value VI, were initiated
Investment and exit activity
• Total investments by the EQT funds increased to EUR 20.6bn (EUR 12.0bn)
• Exit activity has been strong throughout the year, realizing EUR 30.7bn (EUR 3.2bn) to deliver considerable proceeds to clients while reducing vintage risk and allowing investment teams to focus on investments and value creation in more recent funds
• EQT VI had its final exit with WS Audiology and will hence be removed from the Key Fund list
from Q1 2022, having delivered a Gross MOIC of 2.5x
• EQT continues to have an active exit agenda for 2022 with several portfolio companies being prepared for exits
People & Sustainability
• The number of full-time equivalent employees and on-site consultants (FTE+) increased and amounted to 1,160 (710) at the end of the period, of which FTEs were 1,059 (653). EQT Exeter accounted for 300 FTE+ at the end of the period
• EQT strengthened its sustainability team through senior appointments, while further integrating sustainability resources into the business lines
• EQT strengthened its presence in APAC by opening offices and announcing senior hires in Japan and Korea
• In order to future-proof EQT and be ready for the continued growth journey, investments in personnel across investment strategies and the operating platform were accelerated and investments will continue during 2022
Events after the reporting period
• Investment level in key funds as of 19 January 2022 were 75-80% in EQT IX and 60-65% in EQT Infrastructure V
• The target fund sizes were set for EQT X (EUR 20.0bn), EQT Active Core Infrastructure (EUR 5.0bn) and EQT Ventures III (EUR 0.9bn)
• The Board of Directors proposes a dividend per share of SEK 2.80 (SEK 2.40), to be paid in two installments, SEK 1.40 (SEK 1.20) in June 2022 and SEK 1.40 (SEK 1.20) in December 2022
• Bahare Haghshenas, Global Head of Sustainable Transformation, became a member of the EQT Executive Committee. Bahare joined EQT in September 2021 and will be instrumental in further integrating sustainability as part of EQT’s strategic agenda
Please note: All figures refer to continued operations, excluding Credit, unless stated otherwise. Exeter’s contribution to financials are included as of time of closing i.e. 1 April 2021.
Presentation of EQT AB’s Year-end Report 2021
Financial analysts and media are invited to participate in a conference call, including a presentation at 08:30 CET.
The presentation and a link to follow the webcast and conference call live can be found here and a recording will be available afterwards.
To participate by phone, please use the following dial-in details below, at least 10 minutes in advance.
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Information on EQT AB’s financial reporting
The EQT AB Group has a long-term business model founded on a promise to its fund investors to invest capital, drive value creation and create consistent attractive returns over a 5 to 10-year horizon. The Group’s financial model is primarily affected by the size of its fee-generating assets under management, the performance of the EQT funds and its ability to recruit and retain top talent.
The Group operates in a market driven by long-term trends and thus believes quarterly financial statements are less relevant for investors. However, in order to provide the market with relevant and suitable information about the Group's development, EQT publishes quarterly announcements with key operating numbers that are relevant for the business performance (taking Nasdaq's guidance note for preparing interim management statements into consideration). In addition, a half-year report and a year-end report including financial statements and further information relevant for investors is published. Finally, EQT also publishes an annual report including sustainability reporting.
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