Exit: Gimv sells stake in sustainability software thinkstep
Munich/Stuttgart — Together with all other shareholders, Gimv is selling its shares in the Stuttgart-based software company thinkstep AG (www.thinkstep.com). The buyer is the US software service provider Sphera Solutions. Thanks to the sustained support of all shareholders, thinkstep has recorded a very positive development and was able to successfully convert the business model to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.
The globally active company, headquartered in Leinfelden-Echterdingen near Stuttgart, was founded in 1991 and offers software and consulting services that help companies manage sustainability and reduce their environmental footprint. Over the last few years, thinkstep has been able to steadily expand its impressive customer base and today serves over 2,000 customers from 20 industries, including in particular a large number of leading “Fortune 500” companies from Germany and around the world.
thinkstep AG operates in three business units: In the Corporate Sustainability division, sustainability processes are introduced and implemented. These include, for example, Group-wide energy management, corporate social responsibility management and active resource optimization. In the area of product sustainability, environmental aspects are already taken into account in the development phase and thus integrated into subsequent product management and manufacturing processes. With the help of thinkstep’s product compliance solution, compliance and reputation risks can be identified and reduced at an early stage.
Gimv joined thinkstep in 2010 with a minority stake together with Next47 with the aim of supporting the company with capital, know-how and network in its global expansion, operational strengthening and simultaneous transformation from a licensing to a SaaS model. In the course of this, Gimv and Next47 gradually increased their joint commitment, while at the same time some of the founders remained on board with minority stakes. In this way, thinkstep has grown into a leading global software provider in the field of Enterprise Sustainability and Compliance Solutions. With the sale and the planned subsequent integration into Sphera, the next step in the successful development of the company is now being taken.
Dr. Sven Oleownik (photo), Partner and Head of Germany at Gimv, says: “thinkstep has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years and fundamentally reshaped its business model. Building on a very loyal customer base, it has simultaneously been able to further advance its global operations and technological base. With investors and consumers placing increasing importance on companies operating ethically and environmentally consciously, the market for sustainability solutions is highly attractive and growing strongly. thinkstep is ideally positioned for the future to further expand its market leadership now under a new flag.”
Lisa Hengerer, Associate at Gimv in Munich and responsible for the Smart Industries platform, adds: “thinkstep is another success story within our Smart Industries software division. The sale to Sphera Solutions is once again an excellent example of our ambition to accompany our portfolio companies in their strategic development and growth to become attractive for an internationally renowned industrial company like Sphera.”
The transaction has no material impact on the net asset value of Gimv as of March 31, 2019. The transaction is subject to customary conditions, including approval by the competition authorities. Further financial details will not be disclosed.
Gimv is a European investment company with almost 40 years of experience in private equity. The company is listed on Euronext Brussels, currently manages around EUR 1.1 billion and currently invests in 55 portfolio companies, which together realize a turnover of more than EUR 2.75 billion and employ 14,000 people.
Gimv identifies innovative, leading companies with high growth potential and supports them on their way to market leadership. Each of the four investment platforms Connected Consumer, Health & Care, Smart Industries and Sustainable Cities is managed by a dedicated and competent team, each based in Gimv’s home markets — Benelux, France and DACH — and supported by an extensive international network of experts.