15. February 2019
Author Michael Drejer, Vd och koncernchef ICTA AB

Goodbye Q4

With the Q4 report published, the final quarter of the year is now behind us. Its somehow an understatement to say that the year of 2018 was a year of change. We are truly a different company today at the end of 2018 than what we were at the end of 2017. With this my 3rd quarterly report as CEO, it’s time to give some additional insights and summarize the work accomplished throughout the year.

We have succeeded with many of the tasks set out in May 2018 when the new board and I stepped in.

We have cut down the central overhead to an acceptable level and regained growth and profitability in our fully owned subsidiary FFW which achieved a turnover of SEK 73.9 million in the fourth quarter, which is an increase of 19.1 percent compared with the same quarter last year. Majority-owned River improved in the fourth quarter and reported a minor loss.. In the associated company ISBIT GAMES, an experienced CEO was recruited and a strategic review was initiated. Finally, with this quarterly report, ICTA has carried out the necessary write-downs and adjustments in the balance sheet to move forward in a promising and constructive way.

Before I comment in more detail on the quarterly development of the group, it could be interesting to take a brief historic look at where ICTA is coming from looking beyond this past quarter and year.

In the mid-2000s, ICTA began a comprehensive acquisition strategy, the result of which eventually became a group with a number of distinctly different operations with varying profitability and with significant minority ownerships and earn-out models.

The ownership structure made coordination and governance more difficult and weakened the group’s opportunities for stable financing and good cash flows. The acquisitions were made to relatively high valuations, in some cases with harmful structures for earn-out payments and with a high degree of borrowing. At the same time, the group developed a significant overhead.

When the growth and profitability fell during 2016 and 2017, the situation became troublesome.

It was in this situation the new main owners, together with the minority shareholders in FFW, saw opportunities to improve both the Group’s structure and its financial position. Through the guaranteed rights issue in December 2017, The Group received necessary capital and through the non-cash issue to the minority in FFW in the spring of 2018, a fully owned structure was created for about 80 percent of the business.

The new board and I took office in May 2018.

When stepping in we communicated 3 main, clear goals:

  1. Cut cost to an acceptable level in the mother company ICTA AB
  2. Get back to growth and profitability in the two main assets FFW and River
  3. Secure the value of ICTA AB’s stake in the gaming studio ISBIT GAMES

In short:

  1. Cut cost to an acceptable level in the mother company ICTA AB:
    1. Costs has been cut and are now at an acceptable level
  2. Get back to growth and profitability in the two main assets FFW and River
    1. I will comment in more detail below however:
      1. River is still in red, however have been improving throughout the year and made moves towards a break even quarter.
      2. FFW has continued the trend from Q2 and is reporting a strong Q4.
  3. Secure the value of ICTA AB’s stake in the gaming studio ISBIT GAMES
    1. ICTA AB has on behalf of the 38% ownership in ISBIT GAMES participated in recruiting the new CEO and initiated a strategic review of the opportunities going forward.

Now onto the more detailed development of the 3 businesses:

Growth and strong profitability development in FFW

FFW, which since May 2018 is a fully owned subsidiary has shown growth in both revenue and bottom-line since the second quarter of 2018.

The positive development is a result of increased focus on sales, diversifying technologies and optimizing the offering. All pushed through during 2018.

Drupal is the main FFW service and looking at every Drupal installation everywhere is not where FFW’s focus is it is much more interesting to see how Drupal is doing among the large enterprises/ large websites that fits within FFW’s ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and Drupal is doing quite well:

Graphs from https://trends.builtwith.com/cms/Drupal
https://trends.builtwith.com/cms/Drupal-8

It might not seem like a lot when Drupal is growing within the top 100K sites (measured on traffic) from ~5900 sites to ~6350 sites in one year, but it is quite significant. In addition, a lot of the large enterprises, the large non-profits and the large edu’s follows the trend of the large traffic sites and invests in Drupal (even though they don’t make it into the top 100K list of the most trafficked websites). With Drupal growing in this segment, FFW is well positioned to take a piece of that growth.

FFW launched a series of new projects during the quarter, here is a few selected projects:

For the full year 2018, FFW achieved a turnover of SEK 274 million, with an operating profit of SEK 11.7 million.

During the fourth quarter, FFW achieved sales of SEK 73.9 million, which is an increase of 19.1 per cent compared with the corresponding period last year. Even more pleasing is that FFW reached an operating margin of over 7 percent (after contributions to central overhead) in the fourth quarter.

The year ended strong and FFW won over 200 new contracts in the fourth quarter.

New customers during the quarter include DR, Ferrero Kinder, Sunpower, Randstad Global, Wonderful Copenhagen, Cybercom and Ørsted. The order situation for 2019 looks good.

River closer to break-even

The Digital Agency River, 70 percent owned by ICTA, showed a weak development during the first three quarters of the year, with a total loss of approximately 5M SEK. It is very pleasing that River is continuing to improve. River has in Q4 focused on getting the changed offering and focus out to customers so essentially a focus on: Sales, Hires and sharpening the offering. 

Some of the customer won during the quarter includes MEAG (Waterfront Building), Enlabs, SF Studios, Schneider Electrics and Klarna.

Key Hires during the quarter:

River launched a lot during Q4 some of the more notable launches was:

  • Nike: Dubai
  • Hero Gaming: Tactical films for Speedy Casino and Speedy Bet
  • Hero Gaming: Brand film for Speedy Casino
  • Klarna Film: US version  UK version 

New CEO and strategy review in ISBIT GAMES

In the associated company ISBIT GAMES, where ICTA owns 38 percent, Ben Cousins ​​has taken over as new CEO. With his long, broad and international experience from the gaming industry, he is in full swing with a review of various business opportunities for the company and at the same time works to seek long-term funding.

Revisions of book values

During the 4th Quarter and in connection with the preparation of the financial statements for 2018, ICTA has reviewed the book value of the group’s holdings, which led to impairment losses totaling 30.9M SEK, mainly motivated by the weak result in River in 2018. Net financial items were negatively affected by 13.8M SEK for the full year 2018.

The review has also shown the need to adjust certain other items in the balance sheet related to costs associated with pension provisions for the former Chairman and CEO

Adjustments and write-downs of course do not affect the company’s cash flow and after the write-downs, the company’s equity amounts to SEK 127.3 million.

Summery

The overall result of the work in 2018 means that ICTA now has an acceptable profitability in its core business, a good order book, strong improvements throughout the year, and reasonable values ​​in its balance sheet. The platform for continued value growth is in place, and that is what is really motivating for me and the rest of the team!

Our focus continues into Q1, onwards and upwards!

Michael Koefoed Steensborg Drejer

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9. November 2018
Author Michael Drejer, Vd och koncernchef ICTA AB

Welcome

Welcome to this very first ICTA blog post! I am truly excited to share with you what is going on at ICTA.

We might make small modifications to the blog on the way but the address will remain the same icta.se/blog

I am planning on blogging regularly within two categories:
Regular posts and short posts:

  • Regular posts will be general blog posts, longer, more detailed and more background. It could be a specific topic, a client/case study, comments to a quarter etc.
  • Short post which will be a few paragraphs on client wins, new hires or simply shorter news that is interesting and deserves attention.I hope you will enjoy the future posts, thanks for tuning in!

What is going on at ICTA

When the new board was appointed in May of this year, and I was put in the CEO position we went right to work. We spent the majority of what was left of Q2 (~half May and full June) on trimming costs in ICTA and getting the cost level down for both internal and external costs. We have now accomplished that and secured an acceptable cost level going forward.

We have since then turned our efforts towards our current main focus, performance in the two subsidiaries FFW (owned 100% by ICTA) and River (owned 70% by ICTA), and lots have been going on during Q3.

We have specifically focussed on understanding the market trends and tendencies and improving sales focus on creating better results for existing customers and bringing in new accounts and work on exciting new projects together with them.

However before jumping into River and FFW, let’s start with ISBIT where ICTA holds a board positions and a 38% ownership. As you might have noticed it was announced last month that a new CEO has been appointed to help take the company further. That’s a step that we at ICTA fully support and I am excited to see Ben join the team (Ben Cousins – https://www.linkedin.com/in/bencousins/). Ben is an accomplished seasoned executive and with his leadership I feel certain that the ISBIT potential will unleash!

Lets move on to the subsidiaries:

FFW

FFW has continued the strong development from the past quarter (Q2) into this quarter (Q3) on both sales and revenue compared to the same quarters in 2017. FFW did a satisfactory EBIT in Q3-18 and are showing they are on the right track both in Europe and the US.

On top of that FFW has over the past 2 quarters successfully changed their offering into a more strategic and value driven approach, however still with an emphasis on technology. That seems to resonate well with the market where FFW can see a continued strong order intake.

Wins

FFW won 13 new accounts in Q3 of which 6 was won in the US (Certainteed is a key one) and 7 was won in Europe: Unesco France, Warner Music Classic, Socomec, BNP (Banque Nationale de Paris), Københavns Zoologiske Have (Copenhagen Zoo) and Spectra Systems A/S.

One of the largest new accounts added in Q3 was Vej Direktoratet (The Danish Road Directorate). Where FFW is set to deliver a new technical platform in Drupal 8 with a React frontend. The contract also holds support of the solution over the coming 4 years.

Launches

FFW has launched a set of projects during Q3 such as the Triflex project that holds Digital Strategy, Full user experience and a Drupal 8 built delivered out of FFW Germany. The project consist of:

FFW also launched the website for P4G. A network of global leaders and innovators seeking breakthrough solutions for green economic growth – learn more about P4G here https://p4gsummit.org and on the FFW blog https://ffwagency.com/digital-strategies-blog/building-platforms-global-change 

Other notable projects launched during Q3 was:

Acquia Engage Award

Together with Panasonic FFW won the Acquia Engage Award in the “Building on your terms” category. Read more on the Award from Acquia here: https://www.acquia.com/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/winners-unveiled-2018-acquia-engage-awards

Acquia Engage Award

River

River has had a better quarter in Q3 than the performance in Q2, however a few customers pushed expected projects and hence that, delayed the order in-take. That led to River not breaking even as expected for the quarter. As a strategic direction towards getting back to expected numbers River has among other areas had 2 main focus areas:

  • Optimizing and streamline the sales process, with an implementation of a new CRM and a strategic focus on the sales funnel.
  • Change the offering into becoming a more strategic partner to their customers both new and existing. That has resulting in some team changes where some people left and new will be hired.

New client wins:

River won several new accounts during Q3 some of the more prominent ones are: Stora Enso where River have become a global agency partner for all divisions, Schneider Electric (Global), Klarna, Red Bull together with FFW, Speedy Casino, MEAG and Danone

Project launches

River launched a lot during Q3 some of the more notable launches was:

River designed and created the home and away jersey kit launch for Galatasaray football club for Nike Turkey:

Galatasaray Jersey concept – large image 
Galatasaray Jersey concept – large image

Further more River launched a new Campaign for Friends “Back to school”. Another one was for Svenska Freds, River launched a new website where River did the Strategy, UX, design and development. See it here: http://www.svenskafreds.se

Q3

Today, we are also launching the Q3 report (find it here). Quarterly report day, is an exciting day and this is my first full quarter in the seat. Exciting because the report shows the fruits (spoiled or fresh) of the past quarters labour.

We are all (ICTA, ISBIT, River and FFW) working hard because we believe in the potential of the business’s and despite of this being the “summer” quarter (covering July, August and September) it has been a high activity quarter with a lot of good actions.

I am happy to see that this quarter developed significantly better than the previous one, and the result for the Q3 was acceptable, and shows a significant improvement from previous quarters and same period last year.

Q2 ended with an EBIT of -2.093MIO SEK and Q3 with a positive EBIT of 3.4MIO SEK.

This shows something! To me it shows that we are on the right track! But there is still a lot of work to do. It is however very motivating for all of us that things are moving in the right direction. Only through continued focus on performance in FFW and River will ICTA get fully back. So there is no surprise in our focus for the coming quarters, focus focus focus on better performance!

Onwards and upwards!

Michael Koefoed Steensborg Drejer