French private equity firm Wendel Investissement admitted it is considering a float of business services firm Bureau Veritas, as it reported an increase in profits and net asset value in 2006.
Overall, the group said net profits from its businesses were €363 million in 2006, up 23 percent from last year’s figure of €295 million, while sales were up 11 percent to €4.3 billion. It also said its net asset value currently stood at €117 per share, compared with €109 per share in December 2005.
As a result, Wendel is proposing a dividend of €1.70 per share on 2006 results, up from €1.40 last year, plus a €0.30 exceptional dividend.
Wendel began life as a minority investor, but now operates a full-fledged control investor. Chief executive Jean-Bernard Lafonta said the company still had aggressive growth plans: “Our ambition is to double the size of Wendel in the next five years,” he said.
The company plans to put €3 billion of equity to work in the coming years, which includes €2 billion to invest in current portfolio companies, and €1 billion through new investments. Lafonta said Wendel’s firepower was unaffected by this year’s acquisition of US-based Deutsch and Dutch firms Stahl and AVR.
The French group also wants to change its name to just ‘Wendel’; the proposed will be discussed at its annual general meeting.