Viel et Cie (ISIN FR FR0000050049) – “sum-of-parts” or long/short opportunity ?

Viel et Compagnie SAis one of the many French companies with a good Boss score. According to Bloomberg they are active in the following areas:

Viel et Compagnie is a broker of financial products for the French interbank market. The Company deals in money market instruments, and offers clients a range of derivatives.

Traditional valuation metrics look OK but not extremely exciting:

Market Cap: 194 mn EUR
P/B: 0.62
Div. Yield 6.0%
Trailing P/E 12

However looking into the companies’ annual report, one can easily see that the Bloomberg description in this case is actually not very good.

The company describes itself the following way:

VIEL & Cie comprises three core businesses in the financial sector: Compagnie Financière Tradition SA, an interdealer broker with a presence in 27 countries, Bourse Direct, a major player in the online trading sector in France, and a 40% equity accounted stake in SwissLife Banque, present in the private banking sector in France.

Now it gets interesting, Compagnie Financiere Tradition SA itself is a Swiss listed company (ISIN CH0014345117) with a market cap of currently 320 mn CHF or 267 mn EUR. Viel & Cie owns 63.54% of the company, so that should be worth 170 mn EUR.

So again, we have here a holding company, which seems to become one of my specialties…

According to the annual report (pages 85 and following), the holding company had 70 mn in cash and 25 mn liquid securities and 150 mn in debt, leaving net debt of ~65 mn EUR.

The holding company owns on top of the participations:

– 29 mn EUR “other” securities
– 89 mn receivables

If we assume a “haircut” of 50% on those assets, we are left with around 55 mn EUR “extra assets” at holding level which I would net out against the debt.

So a first sum of parts analysis would get us.

Market cap: 194 mn EUR
+ net debt 65 mn EUR
– own shares (9.4%) 20 mn EUR
= EV 239 mn EUR


63.5% of Cie Fin. Tradition : 167 mn EUR
+ other holding assets at 50%: 55 mn EUR
= 225 mn EUR

So we have 27 mn EUR left which should cover

a) 100% in the French online broker “Bourse en ligne”
b) 40% in Swiss Life Banque Privee

According to Viel’s annual report, the online broker earned 3.5 mn EUR in 2011, so with a 10 P/E, this company would be worth 35 mn EUR

The 40% Stake in the French Swiss Life Banque Privee seems to be the result of a 2007 transaction with Swiss Life.

However, this 40% stake only generates “at Equity” profits of 2 mn EUR, even optimistically I would not attach more than 25 mn EUR valuation for this minority stake.

So bringing it together, the Sum of Parts looks as follows:

a) Cie Fin tradition 167 mn
b) holding assets 55 mn
c) Online broking 35 mn
d) 40% Banque 25 mn

Sum 282 mn EUR

Against an “EV” of 239 mn EUR, so only a slight 16% “discount”. So not really something to follow up and let’s move on with some other stock ?

Not so fast: It is quite interesting to look at the relative performance of Viel &Cie against its main participation over the past 2 years:

For some reason which I don’t understand, the two stocks completely “decoupled” in January 2011. Since then, Viel & Cie remained constant and Compagnie Financiere tradition lost ~54%. Or put it another way: In January 2011, Viel was trading at a very large discount (50% or more) to sum of parts whereas now it trades almost without any discount.

I found this very strange. Most of the value of Viel comes from its stake in the Swiss company and for some reason, Viel shareholders do not care that the major stake looses 55% ?

I don’t know if one could short Viel, but a “long CFT / short VIL” trade might be a very interesting market neutral opportunity.

Another potential idea out of this is Compagnie Financier Tradition. This could be a very interesting situation in its own.

Edit: I had originally written this post 2 weeks ago, since then Viel already lost 10% relative to Compagnie Tradition


  • Hallo MMi,

    Eine ähnliche Situation liegt doch auch bei Telegraaf Media und Pro7 vor, oder?
    Wenn der Kurs von Pro 7 weiterhin steigen sollte, dann bekommt man bei dem Aktienkurs von Telegraaf Media (TM), TM sogar geschenkt.
    Oder habe ich etwas übersehen ?
    Würde gerne kurz Deine Meinung dazu hören wollen.
    Danke und Gruss

  • This can work very well if Viel tries to increase its share of its participations and finally squeezes-out the minorities.

  • Dave,

    thanks for the hint. Indeed they are listed and Viel only” owns 68%.

    Funnily enough, with around 56 mn shares, a stock price of 0.82 EUR and a 68% share, the market value is around 31 mn EUR, relativelynclose to the 35 mn EUR I assumed for the 100%.


  • Hi there, After a brief reading, it seems that you missed that the on-line broker Viel owns is listed on Euronext (ticker BSD? / Isin : FR0000074254). Keep on, I enjoy reading your posts. Cheers, Dave

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