Financial Results and Shareholders Meeting (IR)

EQUITA approves the results as of 30 September 2023: Net Revenues to €59.5 million and Net Profits to €9.7 million

EQUITA Comunicato Stampa
EQUITA Comunicato Stampa
  • Growth in Global Markets and Alternative Asset Management Net Revenues to €29 million and €6.5 million respectively

  • Positive contribution from Investment Banking activities with €24 million in Net Revenues and a good mix between capital markets and M&A advisory 

  • Positive 3Q’23 in terms of Net Revenues (+4% YoY) and several investment banking mandates closed after 30 September 2023 

  • Return on Tangible Equity (ROTE) at 22% and IFR Ratio 5.8 times the minimum requirement

Board of Directors to consider the distribution of a dividend of €0.35 per share next year, in line with the distribution of the previous year and based on expectations for 2023 full year results

Shareholders’ remuneration targets of above €50 million dividends distributed in the three-year period ’22-’24 confirmed

Launch of the first tranche of the buyback programme

Milan, 9 November 2023

Andrea Vismara, Chief Executive Officer at EQUITA, commented: “The results achieved in the first nine months of 2023 confirm our ability to perform well in challenging markets. Net revenues in the third quarter were up year on year. October and the first days of November have been particularly strong in terms of contribution to Net Profit thanks to several investment banking mandates completed successfully in both M&A and capital markets”.

“Shareholder remuneration continues to be our top priority. Results achieved to date, expectations for the coming months and earnings retained since IPO - to give more visibility to future distributions - are leading us to consider a dividend of €0.35 per share next year. We also confirm the distribution of more than €50 million in dividends in the three-year period ’22-‘24”.

“The recent months have been key from a strategic point of view. We have added several facets to our business model, helping us to consolidate our role as the leading independent investment bank in Italy. The onboarding of professionals such as Stefano Donnarumma and Silvia Rovere – who have joined the Group’s advisory board – will help us to accelerate our ambitious growth plan for the coming years”.

“Despite the difficult macroeconomic scenario and the low-risk appetite we see in financial markets, we are cautiously optimistic about the future. The investments and partnerships we have signed recently will further diversify our model and strengthen our positioning. We will also benefit from the ongoing simplification of regulation and the initiatives to boost capital markets launched at European and Italian level”.

The Board of Directors of EQUITA Group S.p.A. (the “Company” and, together with its subsidiaries, “EQUITA” or the “Group”) approved the first nine months results of the Group as of 30 September 2023.

 

Consolidated Net Revenues

In the first nine months of 2023 the Group recorded €59.5 million in Consolidated Net Revenues (€64.2 million in 9M’22, -7%). Net Revenues linked to clients[1] reached €53.4 million (€61.6 million in 9M’22, -13%). Looking to 3Q’23 figures, Consolidated Net Revenues were €16.6 million (€16.0 million in 3Q’22, +4%) and Net Revenues linked to clients were €14.3 million (€15.5 million in 3Q’22, -7%).

The Global Markets division – which includes Sales & Trading, Client Driven Trading & Market Making and Directional Trading – grew Net Revenues to €29.0 million in 9M’23 (€26.7 million in 9M’22, +9%). Net Revenues linked to brokerage activities with clients reached €24.0 million (€25.1 million in 9M’22, -4%), notwithstanding weak levels of trading activity in the Italian equity market, especially in mid and small caps.

As of 30 September 2023, the trading floor confirmed its role of leading independent broker in Italy –confirmed by the outstanding results in the 2023 Institutional Investor survey where EQUITA ranked among the top brokers in Italy for Trading & Execution, Sales and Corporate Access activities, as well as for research on Mid & Small Caps – and recorded significant market shares in all relevant segments (Euronext Milan: 7.4%; Euronext Growth Milan: 11.5%; Bond markets: 7.2%; Equity Options: 17.6%).[2] Overall market volumes in Italy on cash equities were up slightly year-on-year on Euronext Milan (+2%) – thanks to the growth in trading activities in 3Q’23 (+33% vs 3Q’22) – and significantly up on bonds (+83%), the latter driven by the increasing appeal of fixed income instruments following the increase in central bank interest rates.[3] Liquidity on Euronext Growth Milan continued to be weak (-27%), despite the increase in trading volumes recorded in 3Q’23 (+12% vs 3Q’22).

Sales & Trading revenues, net of commissions and interest expenses, reached €14.5 million in 9M’23 (€16.1 million in 9M’22, -9%). The performance was impacted by weak levels of trading activity on markets recorded in the first part of the year on Italian equities, especially on mid and small caps. Client Driven Trading & Market Making Net Revenues rose to €9.5 million in 9M’23 (€9.0 million in 9M’22, +5%), thanks to higher levels of client trading activities in fixed income, certificates and derivatives. Directional Trading continued to record a very positive performance, with €4.9 million in Net Revenues (€1.6 million in 9M’22). It is noteworthy that the Directional Trading performance included €0.6 million net incomes deriving from a €38 million fixed income portfolio built mainly between July and September 2022, to be held to maturity, to profit from the market opportunity offered by corporate bonds last year.

In 3Q’23, the Global Markets division recorded €8.3 million in Net Revenues, higher than the €7.0 million recorded in 3Q’23 (+18%) thanks to the positive contribution of Directional Trading which more than offset performance of the Sales & Trading and the Client-Driven Trading & Market Making.

The Investment Banking division recorded €24.0 million in Net Revenues (€31.5 million in 9M’22, -24%). This result was affected by the comparison with the previous year and the challenging underlying market due to restrictive monetary policies and uncertainty about the possible evolution of the global macroeconomic outlook.

Looking to Italian market figures in 9M’23 [4], M&A experienced a significant drop in volumes with only €17 billion of transactions (€61 billion in 9M’22, -72%), significantly below the average of the last five years (€47 billion, 9M’18-9M’22). In terms of number of transactions, M&A deals were down 6% year-on-year (888 in 9M’23 vs 942 in 9M’22). Equity Capital Markets were up compared to the previous year in terms of number of deals (35 in 9M’23, 28 in 9M’22, +25%) but declined in terms of volumes (€2.3 billion in 9M’23, €2.7 billion in 9M’22, -15%)[5], with levels of activity well below the average of the last five years (€4.4 billion, 9M’18-9M’22). Debt Capital Markets – considering only corporate issues – recorded a positive performance, with the number of transactions increasing by 80% (45 in 9M’23, 25 in 9M’22) and volumes growing 66% (€27.3 billion in 9M’23, €16.4 billion in 9M’22), significantly above the average of the last five years (€21.0 billion, 9M’18-9M’22).

Capital Markets activities contributed positively to the results of the Group in 9M’23 thanks to a significant number of mandates completed by the Equity Capital Markets team and the trading floor. Debt Capital Markets and Corporate Broking activities also contributed positively to the results of the Investment Banking. M&A Advisory – despite the increase in the number of mandates year-on-year – was affected by the comparison effect with 2022, which was positively impacted by one very profitable mandate completed in 2Q’22 by EQUITA K Finance. Excluding this mandate, Net Revenues in Investment Banking were up 15% in 9M’23 year-on-year.

In 3Q’23 EQUITA completed several high-profile mandates assisting, inter alia, Openjobmetis as financial advisor and appointed intermediary in the tender offer for its own shares, Sec Newgate as financial advisor in the entry of Investcorp Holdings into the share capital of Sec Newgate, Dentressangle Capital as financial advisor in the acquisition of Dietopack. The team is also assisting the Independent Directors of TIM advising the Related Parties Committee in the sale of the company’s fixed-lined network grid. EQUITA K Finance assisted Gruppo Sotralu (with Bridgepoint as majority shareholder) in the acquisition of FR Accessories, Epta in the acquisition of HEIFO’s refrigeration activities, the De Girolamo family in the sale of a 90% stake in Lotras to CFI (a company controlled by F2i) and Tecnoplast in the sale of a majority stake to DeA Capital Alternative Funds.

In 3Q’23 the Investment Banking division recorded €6.2 million in Net Revenues (€7.1 million in 9M’22,
-12%), mainly driven by the contribution of M&A Advisory which includes the very positive performance of EQUITA K Finance.

In August 2023, EQUITA signed a preliminary agreement (subject to the authorisation of the Bank of Italy) with Silvia Rovere to enter the share capital of Sensible Capital, an independent real estate advisory boutique, with a 30% initial stake, to add expertise in real estate to the Investment Banking division.

Moreover, following the close of the third quarter of 2023, EQUITA completed several corporate finance mandates. The Investment Banking team assisted MAIRE Tecnimont as placement agent and joint bookrunner in the issue of €200 million Euronext Milan Sustainability-Linked Bonds, Carraro as placement agent and sole bookrunner in the issue of €120 million Euronext Milan Bonds, Unipol Gruppo in the €236 million accelerated bookbuilding on Banca Popolare di Sondrio ordinary shares, KME Group as appointed intermediary in the €158 million tender offer for KME Group shares, Unieuro in the acquisition of Covercare and Progressio SGR in the sale of Gruppo Garda Plast to Valgroup. EQUITA K Finance assisted the shareholders of Vip Air Empowerment in the sale of their stake in the company to Multi-Wing and Rosa Sistemi in the partnership with The Timken Company to join the US listed multinational corporation.

EQUITA is also advising Sbe-Varvit / Vescovini as Euronext Growth Advisor, joint global coordinator and joint bookrunner with the company’s admission on Euronext Growth Milan – currently in the bookbuilding phase of the process – and Bonifiche Ferraresi as ECM advisor in the €300 million rights issue of the company.

In October 2023, EQUITA also announced its role as arranger in the initiative call “Basket Bond Tech”, a €100 million funding programme dedicated to Italian SMEs and Mid-Caps active in the digital and tech industry, and funded by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and Mediocredito Centrale.

The Alternative Asset Management division recorded €6.5 million in Net Revenues in 9M’23 (€5.9 million in 9M’22, +8%). Assets under management reached €917 million as of 30 September 2023 (€937 million as of 30 June 2023 and €921 million as of 31 December 2022), with an increasing mix toward proprietary, illiquid, and more profitable assets (42% of total AuM). Asset management fees (Liquid Strategies, Private Debt and Private Equity) increased by 7% compared to the previous year (€5.3 million in 9M’23, €5.0 million in 9M’22), thanks to fees deriving from the management of new private capital funds such as EQUITA Smart Capital – ELTIF that closed its fundraising in June 2023 with €98.4 million. This offset the decrease in fees on liquid products due to the lower assets under management year-on-year, especially on the closed-end UCITS funds which are subject to drawdowns in volatile market environments and not allowed to receive inflows after closing.

The Investment Portfolio[6], equal to approximately €10 million as of 30 September 2023, contributed to the results of the Alternative Asset Management division with €1.2 million Net Revenues in 9M’23 (€1.0 million in 9M’22).

The Private Debt team has started its marketing activities to launch its third fund, anticipating the conclusion of the investment phase of its second fund, which is expected to be completed by year-end. In parallel, EQUITA Capital SGR announced the launch of a new asset class to invest in renewable infrastructure with the EQUITA Green Impact Fund – EGIF initiative, which already sees the interest of an institutional investor willing to potentially commit up to €75 million.

In September 2023, EQUITA announced the appointment of Stefano Donnarumma as senior advisor, to partner with the EGIF team in the fundraising of the new fund. Donnarumma will also be involved in the development of new areas of expertise dedicated to infrastructures and renewables, accelerating the growth of the Investment Banking division and consolidating EQUITA’s positioning in Rome.

In 3Q’23 the Alternative Asset Management division recorded €2.1 million Net Revenues, up 12% compared to 3Q’22 (€1.9 million). Growth was driven by the positive contribution of all areas of business.

The Research Team – among the best teams in Italy also this year for the quality of its reports, especially on Mid & Small Caps – continued to support all areas of the Group, assisting institutional investors with research reports and insights on more than 120 Italian listed companies (ca. 96% of the Italian total market capitalization) and more than 40 foreign listed companies. The team has also added debt instruments to its coverage, reinforcing its presence in the fixed income domain.

 

Consolidated Profit & Loss (Reclassified)

Personnel Costs[7],[8] decreased from €30.0 million in 9M’22 to €28.1 million in 9M’23 (-7%), following the trend in Net Revenues. The Compensation/Revenue ratio9 was 47.2% (46.8% in 9M’22) and the number of professionals reached 196 as of 30 September 2023 (188 as of 31 December 2022 and 184 as of 30 September 2022). Other Operating Costs increased from €13.7 million in 9M’22 to €16.3 million in 9M’23 (+19%). Within these, Information Technology expenses were up 2% year-on-year, mainly driven by the migration to the Euronext platform and some inflation-linked adjustments on info-providing supply contracts. Trading fees[9] were up 8%, mainly due to the increase in Client-Driven Trading activities on fixed income instruments and derivatives. Other costs were up 34%, from €6.9 million in 9M’22 to €9.3 million in 9M’23, due to the return to in-presence events with clients such as roadshows and conferences (including an intense marketing activity in September with several thematic conferences and events dedicated to investors, also abroad in financial venues like London and Frankfurt), inflation-linked supply contracts, and other non-recurring items. These include €0.8 million of one-offs recorded in 2Q’23, mostly related to marketing and corporate communication initiatives of the Group, such as a new corporate website, new visual identity and corporate events, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of EQUITA, thus increasing the brand awareness of the Group. Cost/Income ratio9,[10] was 74.6% in 9M’23 (68.1% in 9M’22). Excluding non-recurring items, Cost/Income ratio was 73.2%.

Consolidated Profit Before Taxes9 was €15.1million in 9M’23 (€20.5 million in 9M’22, -26%). Consolidated Net Profit9 was €10.0 million (€13.1 million in 9M’22, -24%). Including the impacts of the long-term incentive plan for Top Management (“LTIP”), Consolidated Net Profit was €9.7 million (-26% year-on-year).

Adjusted Net Profit, excluding non-recurring items, was €10.3 million (-22% vs 9M’22), with a post-tax margin of 17%.

 

Consolidated Shareholders’ Equity

Consolidated Shareholders’ Equity was €97 million as of 30 September 2023 and the Average Return on Tangible Equity (ROTE) was 22%. The capital strength of the Group was confirmed among the highest in the market, with an IFR ratio of 5.8 times the minimum requirement, pursuant to EU 2033/19 Regulation (IFR).

 

Trading Update and Outlook

In October and in the first days of November 2023, the Investment Banking contributed positively to the financials of the Group, thanks to several mandates closed after 30 September. EQUITA completed a reverse accelerated bookbuilding, two bond issues and several M&A transactions (domestic and cross-border), and is today involved in some already public ongoing deals.[11] Also Global Markets (with the trading floor active, inter alia, in the second issue of the BTP Valore for a total amount of €17 billion) performed well and Alternative Asset Management continued to benefit from increase in management fees on illiquid assets as a result of the launch of new initiatives, such as EQUITA Smart Capital – ELTIF.

Considering the results of the first nine months of the year (with Net Profits amounting to €9.7 million, or €0.20 per share) and taking into account the expectations for the fourth quarter (which include the positive contribution to Net Profits from the Group’s performance recorded in October and in the first days of November), 2023 fiscal year results are coherent with the three-year shareholder remuneration target announced on 17 March 2022. [12]

The Board of Directors – absent significant market changes – will consider to submit to the next Shareholders’ Meeting a dividend proposal of €0.35 per share, in line with the dividend paid out last year.

The management confirms the target to distribute a cumulative dividend exceeding €50 million over the three-year period 2022-2024, based on the strong, profitable track-record of the Group and considering the resources set aside since IPO (amounting to approximately €10 million of Net Profits not distributed as of today), despite the adverse market conditions which might delay the achievement of targets linked to Net Revenues and Net Profits outlined in the business plan in the short term.

Despite the low tone of macroeconomy, management sees gradual improvement in the market, on the basis of cautiously positive expectations on brokerage volumes and capital markets transactions (that should factor in the regulatory initiatives aimed at promoting access to capital markets, introducing new investors and creating new financial instruments dedicated to mid-small caps). M&A volumes in Italy and globally are also expected to be back to normal levels in the foreseeable future. In addition to expectations about markets, the significant investments made by EQUITA in the recent past will contribute positively in the coming years to the growth of the business. The launch of new illiquid products in the Alternative Asset Management, the hiring of senior professionals in the Investment Banking to strengthen the EQUITA expertise in some verticals (consumer, FIG, industrial, structured finance, real estate), the diversification of the Global Markets’ offering with an increasing positioning in fixed incomes, derivatives and certificates, the increase in the coverage of foreign listed companies from the Research Team, the improvement of the IT proprietary platform and the higher visibility of the EQUITA brand, will all accelerate the growth the Group and will contribute to remunerate shareholders with a rewarding policy in the coming years.

 

Other Resolutions of the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of the Company resolved the launch of the first tranche of its buyback programme for a maximum of No. 300,000 shares. The programme was approved on 20 April 2023 by the Shareholders’ Meeting and authorised on 21 September 2023 by the Bank of Italy. For more details, read the dedicated press release published on the Company’s website.

 

[1] Excluding Directional Trading activities, the impacts of the Investment Portfolio linked to Alternative Asset Management activities and the performance fees from asset management activities.

[2] Source: ASSOSIM. Figures refer to brokered volumes on behalf of third parties.

[3] Source: ASSOSIM. Figure refers to the aggregate of DomesticMOT, EuroMOT and ExtraMOT.

[4] Source: KPMG (M&A), Dealogic (Equity Capital Markets), Bondradar (Debt Capital Markets).

[5] 9M’22 figure excludes the rights issue completed by Stellantis (€732m).

[6] The Investment Portfolio includes the investments made by the Group in the Alternative Asset Management products that have been already launched, such as private debt funds for instance, with the purpose of further aligning EQUITA’s and investors’ interests.

[7] Excludes compensation of Board of Directors and Statutory Auditors. Those items are included in Other operating costs.

[8] Excludes the provisions for the cash-settlement of the long-term incentive plan (“LTIP”).

[9] Item directly linked to the Net Revenues of the Global Markets.

[10] Ratio between Total Costs and Consolidated Net Revenues.

[11] For further details, read the paragraph dedicated the transactions closed after 30 September 2023.

[12] “[…] average dividend per year above €0.30 per share […]”

Download the press release

9M 2023 Results