On 6 April TMA members and guests had the opportunity to gather at PwC’s office in Gothenburg to listen to Stampen CEO Martin Alsander. After introductions by the hosts for the evening, Magnus Götenfelt, PwC and Tove Rosén Johansson, TMA Sweden, Martin gave a short presentation on the lessons learned from the reconstruction the company went through during 2016.
The core activities in the Stampen Group are the Gothenburg-based daily Göteborgs-Posten and the printing group V-TAB. After many years of acquisitions the Group had acquired substantial debt and after a couple of tough years for the paper and printing business, Stampen began its operational turnaround during 2014-2015. But divesting 25 companies and entities, closing four printing facilities and reducing the number of employees was not enough.
The final blow to Stampen was the court decision for printers to hand-back the printed related VAT to customers when VAT rules changed. Stampen had to roll-out “Plan B” to take the Group through a substantial reconstruction, with 16 companies, 7 courts, 3000 employees and renegotiation of SEK 880 million in debt.
All was well prepared for the reconstruction and Martin concluded that “we could not have done this any faster”. Reconstruction began formally on 23 May 2016 and by end-October Stampen could exit the reconstruction and could by end of 2016 raise new equity.
After the presentation, the moderator, Peter Björnram TMA Sweden, opened for discussions. Given that many of the people involved were present the discussion could take different stakeholders perspectives and give a nuanced perspective – present were Peter Hjörne, chair, Christian Andersch, administrator, Kristina Brandt, CFO and Claes Jonson, who played a significant role in the re-financing. The discussion became a workshop on reconstruction best practices.
Martin concluded with a couple of important points:
- Prepare and plan well – work with different scenarios and involve stakeholders early. Only then can you be as flexible as needed. All things will not go according to plan, but the better you are prepared the more likely you will be successful
- Cash is king – and manage for it! Many suppliers are not used to receiving cash payments, so preparation of a “cash only culture” is needed.
- Communicate clearly and regularly – involve suppliers early on. Keep a regular pace. Speak the truth and have one key spokesperson.
- Speed, speed, speed – the pace of execution is of utmost importance to succeed. Being in reconstruction is not good for a company.
Fredrik Vernersson, President TMA Sweden