Benjamin Lakatos owns majority of MET
The ownership structure of MET, a major energy group even by European standards, currently preparing for a significant capital raise, has transformed. CEO Benjamin Lakatos, who now owns about 80% of the company, gave an interview to Világgazdaság on the background of the transaction.
MET CEO Benjamin Lakatos has become the owner of over 80% of the Swiss-based MET Group, the remaining nearly 20% can be purchased by other members of the management. Benjamin Lakatos enforces his ownership rights through the newly established MET Capital Partners AG, while the other managers can buy shares via MET ManCo AG.
- The company’s former owners were Mol, Wisd Holding and MET ManCo.
According to the announcement made by Benjamin Lakatos, the management has initiated the transaction because the group needs to raise significant capital.
“The parties do not intend to reveal the exact purchase price,” the CEO told Világgazdaság.
- He only said about the price that it was calculated based on the 2017 audited statements, and the stakes were acquired by MET Capital Partners AG on the same price, in accordance with the company’s ownership share.
The “significant” amount of capital to be raised depends on the possibilities available in the market, Benjamin Lakatos explained. He recalled that MET Group had intensively expanded in the past years, it had established subsidiaries, opened offices or representations in six new countries since 2016.
- Although the existing level of capitalisation is sufficient to sustain the company’s current activities, the group will need additional capital to take part in the European consolidation process and uphold the expansion rate it achieved in the past years.
According to Lakatos, the market condition changes affecting energy traders justify the need for expansion and capital in case of MET. The steadily increasing competition has been a challenge, which completely altered the energy market and the business opportunities it offers. Due to market opening and the unbundling (separation of the company's activities) ordered by the EU, hundreds of companies like MET were able to enter the energy trade sector with a low capital intensity. However, size in this fierce competition has become crucial, moreover, it obviously counts as a competitive advantage today.
- “The company’s growth strategy clearly defines our goals. This management buyout prepares the company for future capital raise,” Lakatos said.
When he was asked to specify further steps to be made, Benjamin Lakatos said that Europe would remain the primary market for MET, and the company’s main activities would continue to be connected to natural gas and electricity. Beyond improving its trading positions, the firm also plans to invest in gas and electricity infrastructure.
- “We plan to close at least three major transactions this year, including the already announced acquisition of Tigáz,” Lakatos added.
MET Group closed over 100,000 transactions in 29 countries last year. It traded about 35 billion cubic metres of natural gas so far, which is the quadruple of Hungary’s annual gas consumption. MET has become the fifth largest gas importer in Italy and it is also among the important gas traders in Spain.
“Our goal is to become a leading energy market player on the continent, and we have every chance to achieve this,” Benjamin Lakatos said.
- According to him, the new ownership structure became operative on the day of the announcement. MET is now fully owned by its management, with the majority ownership of Lakatos.
The highest performing employees of the company will have the opportunity to buy MET shares every year from a part of their annual bonuses.
Getting listed on the stock exchange is not on the table at the moment, because MET is not there just yet, but “it is a possibility”.
Advices from multiple sources
MET worked with several advisors throughout the transaction with regards to legal, tax-related, financial and financing issues. These companies, including Baker McKenzie and White & Case, are all well-known international transaction advisors. The transaction was financed by ING.