GIMV halves dividend

GIMV, Belgium’s largest venture capital provider, has shaved 50 per cent off its dividend to shareholders as part of plans to exercise “requisite financial caution” to protect future shareholder value.

GIMV, the Belgian manager of a venture capital portfolio valued at E909m, today proposed a 50 per cent cut of its gross dividend, offering to pay shareholders E0.7 per share, as opposed to the E1.4 paid out last year.  

The group, Belgium’s largest venture capital investor, said in a statement the proposal reflected its “desire to pursue it prudent policy” designed to “maintain the current strong balance sheet position and protect future shareholder value.”

In February this year, GIMV announced a E300m accounting loss following unrealised write-downs of E290m in 2002. Frank De Leenheer, the group’s investor relations manager, said although the group would not provide further information on portfolio valuations until September, it expected write-downs for 2003 to be “significantly lower” than the level of the 2002 and 2001 write-downs.

De Leenher also said GIMV’s net asset value (NAV) was showing an encouraging trend, up E15m at E834m on May 23, against E819m on December 31, 2002. By the end of 2001, GIMV’s NAV had stood at E1.018bn.

Despite this stabilisation, GIMV shares continue to trade at a substantial discount to NAV around the 50 per cent mark. The group has been listed on Euronext Brussels since 1997.

GIMV said it has invested E18.7m so far in 2003, while completing exits amounting to E56.8m.
 
The group, established in 1980, invests primarily in information technology and life sciences both in Belgium and abroad. It also operates a corporate investment unit specialising in buyouts. The company is an affiliate of the Flemish government, which controls 70 per cent of its shares through a vehicle called Vlaamse Participatiemaatschappij NV.