Yachting Art Magazine

Buy-out from the Continental Group for VDO Marine

As part of a Management Buyout, the Continental Group is selling its global VDO Marine business to Veratron AG.

Buy-out from the Continental Group for VDO Marine

The shareholders in veratron AG are the previous CEOs Hans Bauer and Martin Ebneter, as well as Rupaal Finanz Holding, a Swiss investor who specialises in small and medium-sized companies. In addition to the licensing rights for the brand VDO Marine, the transaction also includes the sales channels and the production site in Rüthi in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen with its research & development department.

In the process, veratron will continue to work with the employees from the former Continental site.

“The marine market has displayed healthy growth in recent years. We will be successful with ‘Swiss Made’ products”, says Hans Bauer, former CEO of Continental Automotive Switzerland AG and now shareholder and continued CEO of veratron AG. “This is because the high level of
competence we have built up with the team at the site over the years is easily matched by the reputation enjoyed all around the world by the VDO Marine brand.”

One of the key pillars of the strategic orientation of veratron AG is the focus on marine business. Customers in OE business and in the parts market were already informed about the changes at the signing of the transaction in April. “All the feedback was positive: customers expressed the hope that we will be able to respond even more flexibly to their requirements, for example during the development of new instruments. This itself was one of the strategic considerations we had in mind when we planned the MBO”, says Martin Ebneter, CEO for Sales and Research & Development, as well as co-owner.

As an independent company, management will have greater freedom to respond to customer wishes and market developments in future. “Our aim is to expand our market position in the marine market. In the process, we will capitalise on flexibility, agility and speed just as much as on quality, know-how and customer focus”, says Hans Bauer. “In addition, we are also planning to expand into other specialist markets, for example the parts market for power sports.”

The product portfolio of the VDO Marine brand will be manufactured in Rüthi and marketed worldwide by veratron AG. This includes instruments for navigation and for engine monitoring systems for sports and sailing boots as well as for yachts. As an original equipment manufacturer, veratron AG serves renowned boat engine manufacturers all around the world.

Among the most important aftermarket product lines are the brands Acqualink and Oceanlink, for which licensing rights have also been acquired and which also have the NMEA 2000 certificate, the globally significant certification from the US National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Alongside Europe, the key markets are North America and Asia, particularly Japan.

Part of the transaction includes cooperation agreements between veratron and Continental in the areas of research & development and production. As a result, a number of Continental products will continue to be manufactured in Rüthi for a transition period. Orders from Continental in the area of research & development are also helping to ensure that full capacities are utilised during the first few years.

The business processes in the niche market of marine are very different to those in the core business of an automotive supplier. Hans Bauer and Martin Ebneter, who have guided the global marine business from Rüthi for Continental for several years as CEOs, developed a concept for a Management Buyout based on their ongoing trust in the potential of the marine business and the unique competence of the team on-site. At the same time, they also managed to get Rupaal Finanz Holding on board as an investor.

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