Refocus on entrepreneurship
In November 2003 Pon Holdings, a large privately owned company in the Netherlands, acquired Geveke NV. The company had annual sales of €1 billion: 60 per cent of them Caterpillar-related (earthmoving equipment and engines) and 40 per cent generated by a diversified group of technical trading companies, of which many were not performing well. The initial idea at Geveke was to use the Caterpillar cash flow from the business to build up a new group of companies and become less dependent of one supplier. Pon however, was only interested in the Caterpillar activities.
The other subsidiaries were active in widely different fields: pumps and compressors, medical products, machinery, industrial automation, temperature controllers, vibration hammers, filtration and fork-lift truck distribution, to name but a few. And they were scattered across the Benelux, Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. The financial performances of two thirds of the companies were below industry standards. In fact, even the ones that had been successful before acquisition were now suffering from the burden of reporting structures and group strategies.
In order to split the activities, a jointly owned company, Nimpon, was established. Nimbus holds a 60 per cent stake in this, while Pon retains 40 per cent. For each company Nimbus defined its priorities and reduced corporate overheads. Teams were appointed to produce and implement improvement plans and in some cases full-time resources were allocated in order to control and monitor the progression. Since the disentanglement from Geveke, the Nimpon group has shown solid financial results. Of the 30 original companies, most have been divested to strategic partners, or sold to MT’s backed by private equity. Almost all of the companies were made profitable and healthy.
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