Edited Transcript of VEMFsdb.ST earnings conference call or presentation 29-Apr-20 1:00pm GMT

Laveta Brigham

HAMILTON Jun 17, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) — Edited Transcript of Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 1:00:00pm GMT Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [1] Yes. Thank […]

HAMILTON Jun 17, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) — Edited Transcript of Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 1:00:00pm GMT

Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director

David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [1]

Yes. Thank you very much, operator, and good morning, good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the Q1 ’20 results conference call for VEF. I’m very happy to be with you today. And the information for this call, the presentation is on our website. And also, you can watch it via webcast as well as dialing in.

We take a slightly different format to our presentation this quarter, given the slightly different backdrop that we’re now operating in. And so it’s more of a crisis and short-term orientated presentation. And we’ll go through — what I’ll go through in the deck is not so much the crisis itself because we’re all inundated with the various aspects of the crisis, the virus, the macro implications of this sector and company implications across the world, and — but I’ll make it very specific to VEF, as you would expect, and how we see the crisis, how we’re operating and the crisis impacted by it, both the pros and the cons short-term and longer term.

And from a slide deck point of view, if you move to Slide #2, and this is just some top-down thoughts and put everything in context for you, the investor. And I think the first point is this is just another crisis in emerging markets. And I don’t mean to be blasé when I use the word just, but we’ve been investing in emerging markets for the last 5 years at VEF. The team has been involved in emerging markets between 10 and 20 years. And we always seem to be working or operating in just before or just after a crisis. So this is not an uncomfortable territory for us as investors. Not saying we like crisis. And obviously, this crisis has a different level of depth and magnitude to it, and we’re not disrespectful of that.

But whether it was Brazil and the contraction GDP of 3%, 4% in 2015 and ’16, the Russian — latest Russian crisis 2014, when we were investing in iyzico, when there was a failed coup on the streets of Istanbul, we always seem to be knocking around a crisis of one format or another. So we always find there is a playbook, a way to handle ourselves, work with our portfolios, save value and create value in situations like this. So we’re not fazed by it. We’re not a rabbit in headlights. Emerging market investing comes with crises, albeit not to the magnitude of this one, as I said.

What I liked very much about this crisis for us, specifically, was the gradual impact and the time to pair that we had for it. So a function of fortune. We don’t invest in China. We weren’t investing in Italy. They’re not geographies that we invest in, kind of the Phase I geographies of this crisis, and we don’t invest in travel or other segments, hotels, et cetera, that were hit very much in day 1 of this crisis. So none of our geography, sectors, companies had a day 1 impact of revenues going to 0 and businesses been brutally impacted by the devastating impact of what this virus brought to make economies standstill and spaces standstill.

Effectively for the month of March, we had a set of companies which were pumping out record numbers in many regards. And it was kind of a bizarre scenario where you’re sitting looking to how the crisis unfold across the world, both from a virus and a macro point of view and into sectors, and we knew it was coming to Brazil, to India, to Mexico, et cetera. We knew it was coming to our sectors, but it wasn’t a day-one impact. So we had the beauty of time, and that was time to think, time to prepare. And the month of March was a flurry of activity with our company’s CEO, top team, Board levels, weekly, biweekly calls. And basically, just time to think through what best way to react to this and prepare for this and most naturally with the playbook around cutting costs, cutting marketing spend, getting rid of projects which weren’t necessary in the current environment and just reducing that cost burn, building liquidity, building capital, grabbing funding when it was available.

So basically, on April 1, when the crisis did come, you’re in the mindset and obviously and have the means to expand and benefit as you go. So that was a very positive, almost lucky, I would say, aspect to this crisis for us, the sector that we invest in and the geographies that we invest in. And the mindset is very much defense first. We’re still in that defense first mindset. Even though we’re 2 months into this crisis, one has to survive before one can thrive. And we very much have the ambition to make the most of this crisis, both us and our companies, and to come out the other side stronger and take opportunities as they come, but very much you want to survive in any crisis to be alive the day it ends.

Well-funded. I think that was a very important aspect of this crisis, but ourselves at best on our cash position. But more importantly, our portfolio companies are well funded going into this crisis on average. Most — majority of them had raised significant amounts of capital at the back end of 2019 and the early part of 2020. There’s nothing better than having a strong cash pile coming into a crisis, especially when you’re still guesstimating the longevity and depth of that crisis on a sector and country-specific level. And so there was a couple of companies in the portfolio that had gaps in funding who we moved quickly to fill those gaps. So we’re very comfortable that our portfolio companies at a minimum have 12 months of runway, but many have 24 months and many to break even. There’s very much been a focus on cash over growth in the short-term and the very realization on what’s the priorities here, without forgetting about the longer-term potential and opportunity of all the companies and spaces. The focus is short-term and defense. That’s just logical in a window like this.

Flipping on to the positives, fintech and all things tech and digital are medium to long-term winners from this event, not looking for positives from such a horrendous event, but the world is quite quickly in step change going digital, and I’ll deal with that in a second. And I guess from an opportunities point of view, for us as investors, they’re already starting to become evident. We need to be patient with our capital, patient with those opportunities because they could become bigger and better. We are in no rush to do anything at this stage. But some of the investing, best investing that funds due and the best vintages are generally during crisis, some of our best investments, notably Tinkoff and iyzico in Turkey were acquired or brought into the company in the stressed times. And we had some of our best returns getting out of those companies. So it is a window of opportunity as much as a crisis in a defense time. So there’s a lot going on there.

Moving on to Slide 3 and staying with the positive aspects of this before I get into some of the more nitty gritty of the impacts of Q1 and the numbers. Fintech, for us, this is what we’re all about. The future of finance is digital. We’ve always said that. And what we like about this crisis is that there has been a step change move by society to all things digital, a forced move. There was already a secular trend. It was gradually happening over time as people move from cash to digital from offline to online. These trends were happening. Something like this just makes a step change happen when cash disappears from society, when bank branches are closed, when people are forced to digital channels, then the habit is created, and then you get a step change in growth to a broader segment of society. And that’s something which is very powerful for us and our companies and on our mandate.

And that’s where you’re talking about payments, online credit, personal finance, wealth management, all the tools are seeing a boost in user activity, search, et cetera. And like it is medium to long-term positive for our investment thesis. If anything, this crisis has made minds focused. And basically, our mandate has become even more obvious, not just to ourselves, but hopefully to the investment community that the future of finance is digital. And the space that we’re playing in is an obvious long-term winner. It’s still down to us to pick winners and invest well and create value. But the thesis in top-down space and ideology has just become stronger. And obviously, we’re very happy with that aspect of the crisis.

Moving on to Slide 3 and some of the more short-term aspects of this and NAV and NAV movement and all the realities of what we’ve done in Q1. Just some numbers for you and this has been obviously reported first thing this morning. Our NAV decreased by 25.3% over the quarter to a total of $186.4 million, down from about $250 million at year-end ’19. On a per share SEK basis, as a lot of investors look at it that way, it’s off to SEK 2.88 per share, about a 20% decline given the currency differentials from SEK 3.55 at year-end. So $62 million of negative value swing in the NAV in Q1.

I think from a development point of view, we made one new investment at the back end of Q1. This has been ongoing for 12 months now with the first investment in India, Juspay payments company. We invested $13 million. I’ll talk about that. And we made a couple of small additional investments, which I’ll allude back to. I talk about making sure our companies are funded through this, and that was with Finja, $430,000, a small investment as part of an internal consortium. And with TransferGo, a payments cross-border remittance company, a $2.1 million check as part of the broader funding round that happened after the end of the quarter.

These are just the facts and figures of the NAV move. In this quarter, it’s worth getting a bit more into the detail because this is the first time we’ve had a significant NAV move and a significant NAV move in the wrong direction. Thus we’re getting into the details because I’m sure there’s plenty of questions from your side on that. I guess that you see that on Slide #5, the NAV evolution, which has been not uniformly positive, but gradually positive. And we are a long-term investors, and we’ve liked that trend, and we’ve seen realizations as well as mark-to-market. And in that, obviously, this quarter has seen a step change down, and I’ll get into that.

So Slide #6 just gives you a bit of background into the approach because it’s important. Generally speaking, we have a mark-to-last investment round approach for our companies when we invest in them as in line with IFRS guidelines and our auditor, PwC. And after a period of 12 months, you move away from the last investment round because it’s become stale and you move to a mark-to-model approach based on company forecasts, peer multiples and FX, if it’s in another country ex U.S., which generally all our investments are and then local currency plays. So 5 of our companies are in the mark-to-model category. We had 6 in the mark-to-last investment round. And what we’ve moved to in Q1 is a calibration methodology for those companies which were previously mark-to-last investment round and effectively taking their valuation point when we last invested and then calibrating the valuation from that point to today based on the movement in the outlook for their key numbers, revenues, EBITDA, et cetera, the change in evolution in the FX in that country and a change in evolution in the multiples for the peer group, which goes against that.

Effectively, in the majority of cases, this led — I mean with the mark-to-model companies there to a markdown, specifically, given what we saw in the month of March with share prices of multiples of peer groups were challenged. And FX, especially in some of our larger economies, were in the 20% to 30% range down and of Brazil, Mexico, Russia. For example, while a lot of the forecast that we actually expected for year 2020 for these companies, actually is still above what we were voluming them up before back in 2019 just because these companies have grown so big. Even in New York, 2, 3x since the last time we looked them or buy them based on the last investment round.

Moving on to Slide #7. So what does this specifically mean for numbers? What we saw is, let’s say, from a total NAV point of view, we saw a move down from $250 million to $186 million. From a company-by-company approach, we saw a broad range of moves from — in the 20% to 50% move in the extreme. A lot of this has currently baked in because of those 30% — 20% to 30% plus/minus moves in local currency. Then in some cases, the function of multiples and peer groups. And I know there isn’t the case of forecast, so kind of 3 aspects moving into each one.

And what I will say is that we looked at our portfolio on a 2020 basis for this exercise in line with our auditors. We didn’t want to get beyond 2020 and the reality of what we can see and what we can see is even moving as I speak. And so we don’t want to get too blue skies and move on to 2021 or 2022 in that aspect. So I think it’s a fair reality of what we’re seeing right now. A couple of standouts, obviously, on the positive side, which may be questioned, but clearly in the payment space, we just invested in Juspay, which is mobile payments in India. And if any space is seeing a benefit from — in the fintech space from what’s going on with anything online, anything digital, so Juspay in the digital lending space, but we also just invested in that name, still at that mark-to-last investment round.

And then TransferGo in the cross-border remittance space, digital cross-border remittances, so with bank branch closed with money in, money out cash outlets closed for the remittent individual. Digital remittances are seeing a surge or outgrowth in certain corridors, depending on the individuals to TransferGo. And also, we hadn’t revalue TransferGo properly, effectively in maybe 2 years because the last investment round, about a year ago, was a function of a value that we set well previous to that. So the growth has come through in their numbers mixed with the multiple and that — in fact that it’s fairly forecast — or FX-neutral and led to there actually being a slight uptick in valuation versus peers.

Moving on to Slide 9. This is very similar to last quarter, given that we’ve seen, give or take, negative news across the board, ex TransferGo. But Creditas and Konfio are still our largest holdings, 2 companies which are having a very strong crisis in fairness. We’re very close to those names through this crisis, and they should come out of this stronger, if anything, in their respective spaces. We’ve got 12 holdings in the portfolio. And given the addition of Juspay in India, our geographic spread now obviously still is heavy in Latin America.

We now bring more of the Indian subcontinent with our first investment in India. We have an investment in Pakistan. On a cash position, we’re at $24 million at the end of Q1. I’ll talk about that in a second. And I guess, there’s a lot more in this window. Short term, there’s a lot more focus and work with our current portfolio, and that’s where we’re spending our time and energy looking to make sure the value is saved, worked on within what we have, looking for opportunities, potentially to build positions in certain companies in a window like this when valuations get distorted and stock becomes available before we move back to looking for opportunities as we go.

Slide 10 is just the geographic split. It springed India into the equation for the first time, which is an interesting one for us and one that we’ll probably see more of in the future as we go.

Slide 11 is the cash position versus investment portfolio and cash position for everybody and it’s important, this window. We ended Q1 with $24 million of cash capital. And post that with TransferGo, and maybe one more internal funding round, we’re looking at about $20 million, give or take, at the end of that point, and then we’ll have a portfolio that’s well funded to weather this crisis. So we’re sitting in a robust cash position with more or less the portfolio taken care up to a certain extent on this first iteration of the crisis. What is also obvious in a window like this is that our cost base is actually quite pro cycle. We had a cost base of $5.7 million coming through in 2019 accounts. In 2020, the forecast is now coming closer to $3 million to $3.5 million.

Aspects of our investment activity, our travel. Also a big aspect is our long-term incentive plan, which is very much linked to the performance of the NAV and the share price. So all this, obviously, feeds into a lower cost base on a lower NAV. There’s no debt or leverage in the business today. We have no debt outstanding. This is obviously a positive going into a window like this. And as I said, our companies are well cashed as well as ourselves. So there’s defense first before you get into attack. We’re in that strong defensive position, and we’ve just been looking to plug any holes with a lot of top-down pressure coming on the world before we start being clever about ourselves in the future and value creation.

Just a — this is Slide #12. So I just put one company in the pack because it’s our newest company in the digital payment space. It’s been around for 8 years in India. We own 10% of this company, just below — after our $13 million investment. There was a $20 million plus investment round with some great partners, in that Accel India. We’ve been in there for a long time and as partners of ours, Wellington Management also came in. This we know — this is our first investment into India. And I guess, why this is important is that we do fintech in emerging markets. We’re investors in fintech in emerging markets. We pride ourselves of being experts in that. China has always been out of bounds almost. And just given the size, extent and the depth and the way the players like Tencent and Alibaba own that market and our distance from it. But India has always been a market we’ve been fascinated about, we thought was a big fintech future.

We spent a lot of time on the ground there over the years. But for one reason or another, whether it was macro competition price points, we never found an investment — or just the evolving nature of the ecosystem and models that were very strong 2 years ago have disappeared since. So we’ve taken our time with India to get our feet wet, to find the right partners. Juspay as a company is a classic case where we spent already 2 years with these guys since we first met them. And got to know them, almost track them as kind of shadow investors. And we’re very comfortable to the point where when they were raising was almost organic that they would call us and that we would lead their investment round. And that’s what we like to do. We ended up with Creditas in the past in Brazil. We did it with Konfio in Mexico in the past.

So it’s more of a gradual approach, but they’re digital payments, mobile first. They sit above the payments deck, and into so many different ways. It’s one of the most complex and advanced payment systems — electronic payment systems in the world with the various wallets, the various card systems, UPI, the government payment system, direct bank-to-bank real-time. For any merchant that’s looking to get paid, there’s so many options, so much friction. But Juspay is a tech that sits above all as a unifying layer that works with all the payments companies and providers on one side and the merchant and leaders to make sure they convert more and reduce fraud effectively.

And they bought our associated products with that. But a testament to the team is that they’re partners who they work with. They work with Amazon, they work with Flipkart, with Uber. The list goes on of the main Indian e-commerce, mobile companies that need to accept payments via mobile. So effectively, their SDK is down almost 200 million times in India via their partners’ apps. So very good place for us — strongly for us longer term, but also in a window like this, the payment companies are coming to the fore, while some of the credit companies are seeing some short term pressure. So we’re very excited about this investment.

Slide 13 is just a little bit on the share price and the NAV. What we’re saying is the markets, they can be efficient. They’re very efficient when our share price fell off, stalled off in the month of March, like it did with share prices across the world, and then we’ve seen the recovery since. Our new NAV came out today and the share price was unchanged, give or take, on that basis in the expectation and of what was happening. So there a fairly efficient market, and we’re quite happy with how that has evolved, even though we don’t like any share price fall at any time, but all very logical in this window. Given the share price today, we’re sitting at about a 15% discount to NAV. That’s more or less where we were at the end of 2019, and market cap is just above $116 million today.

Outlook and guidance. Slide 14, outlook and guidance for the period. Just to finish up before I open up to any Q&A out there. So this is crisis time. So for us and for all our portfolio companies, there’s very much a mindset change in this window. It’s not a change forever, but you keep the bigger picture mandate thesis value that we will create via this. But short term, you rip that up. You’re going to be very careful with everything. You’ve got to be defense first on budgets. Most of our companies need to be in a war footing. It’s cash, cash burn, improving runway, your capital costs and funding. Everything needs to be looked at and prioritized in order so that you’re in the best shape to survive the crisis before you start getting clever to make the benefit of the crisis. And what I like at best in our portfolio companies is just the cash and capital position came into this and the time that we had to manage ourselves as a company and as a portfolio — a set of portfolio of companies as we came into this.

From an investing point of view, we don’t have any of the issues that maybe some of our bigger peers globally had in that. Remote working is what we do, given the extent that we travel, work in airports, work in hotels, work on our partner, our portfolio company’s offices. It’s just the nature of the business. So the company hasn’t missed a beat. And as a lot of our port on most — majority of our companies, our portfolio companies are digital native, quite simple or similar with them to this kind of digital remote working and war footing crisis time has been quite, I won’t say, nice, but has been fairly natural to them. And it does go back to the fact that emerging markets and crisis go together. So our Russian companies, our Brazilian companies, this isn’t something new, albeit it’s something unwelcome to them. It’s not like they’re U.K. companies or U.S. companies and it’s their first crisis. And a lot of our founders and our portfolio companies, as we always say, they’re not kids with an app. These are — I’d say the average age of our founders is 40 plus/minus X consultants, local, been through many a crisis, can handle themselves in it, and we’re working with them on that.

And the NAV evolution, while not welcomed in Q1, I think is a fair reflection of where we are. We are somewhat slaves to the market multiples in the currencies that do tend to move. But also we’re very comfortable and confident in our companies and then coming through the crisis even stronger, and we’re very happy and comfortable — not happy. We’re comfortable with the NAVs that, that we have for Q1. I think this is a true and fair reflection of where we are today. And the final point is just the investment thesis. Short term is prioritizing the current portfolio. Now this makes total sense. It’s that over pipeline opportunities. We’re starting to see the mind — our mindset, the opportunities come out, and that’s starting to change. We do want to thrive and make the most of this crisis, but Phase 1 is clearly defense.

I will stop there, and I will pass back to the operator who can open up to the audience for any questions.


Questions and Answers


Operator [1]


(Operator Instructions) We have one question in the queue so far. That’s from the line of Herman Wartoft of Pareto Securities.


Herman Wartoft, Pareto Securities, Research Division – Research Analyst [2]


A couple of questions from my side. So starting with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. I mean, obviously, valuation is one thing, but operations is another in many respects. And I was wondering, you spoke a little bit about the payment sector being one that maybe hasn’t been as badly affected as many other sectors. Could you elaborate a little bit more on other sectors that you think are more or less affected by this crisis? And also maybe in geography, if you see that Europe is more effective than Latin America or something like that?


David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [3]


Yes. Herman, look that’s — it’s a very fair question. It’s a very broad question, but I’ll try and be concise. I think in general, you have this fintech is a medium-term winner from this. And that’s fine to say, but what is the short-term impacts on what are we seeing through the prism of our companies and the sector that we play in? I think the natural first situation winner has been payments, but not offline payments, very much online payments. So you look at a listed name like Adyen and their share price is booming, a bit like Amazon was in the e-commerce space. So first phase this crisis happened, people went, oh no, the world has gone off a cliff, and then they realize, no, it’s not and everyone’s shopping online and not offline. So online payments, first and foremost, is getting a real boost. Offline is obviously hurting because all shops are closed and consumers aren’t being outdoors and aren’t interacting restaurants, hotels, shops, et cetera. So the payment space is mixed with online booming, offline hurting short term. And then cross-border, real mix. We see true TransferGo. Our corridors are actually getting a bit of a boost. But then some other corridors are struggling where migrant workers are being let go from their jobs in certain geographies. And hence, the remittance flow is slowing down somewhat.

So it’s a function of — I say, the cross-border is a mix, but online booming, offline less. So — and you get into the credit space, and we’ve got the payments for us, it’s obviously Juspay and TransferGo. You get into the credit space, and this is an area where you have to have concern because you’re into predict the virus into a macro crisis. So macro crisis lead to credit cycles, and credit cycles means you’ve got slower growth and worse asset quality, whether it’s a small bidder or a big bid, irrespective whether you’re Swedbank or Banco Itaú in Brazil or one of our companies. So we’ve got names like REVO, Jumo, Creditas and Konfio in the credit space, all of which have, first and foremost, reduced costs, built up liquidity, reduced issuance, focus aggressively on collections. And each 1 through the month of April has seen an uptick, modest, but an uptick in asset quality and very much slowdown in growth, but that’s been forced slowdown. So we’re going to go through an asset quality cycle, and that’s going to hurt different companies to different extent.

What I do like from — we don’t do any consumer unsecured lending in the portfolio. It’s not our game. And Creditas is just at the top of our NAV, is secured consumer, secured against home, secured against auto. So we’ve been through cycles like this before. Asset quality does get worse in Brazil, but the secured stuff, and those tend to stay the course. So important for these companies really to stock up on liquidity, funding, keep the machine moving while aggressively working their asset quality through what could be 2, 3 quarters of pain, just natural in the space. And then areas like trading platforms and online investing, it’s actually seen a bit of a boom. I think markets would fall off and people would stray away. But if anything, there’s been a hell of a lot more activity. And we’ve seen through companies like our — Magnetis in our portfolio, but just in general and across the board.

So it’s a real mix from the medium-term positive for fintech to the short-term mixed bag. But everybody is going digital native. So whether you’re getting a loan or looking to trade or making a payment, the percentage of all of the deals will be bigger in digital in this step change environment as we come out of it at the back end of this year and early next year. I’d say, from a geographic point of view, it’s been a mixed bag. You unfortunately put pressure on different systems and you get different political systems and people making miss moves, let’s call them or wrong steps. So we’ve seen that in Brazil, where we’ve seen some Cabinet Ministers resign as the President has — let’s say, hasn’t dealt with ideally the COVID situation, not at the Brazilian context, but then Mexico has been quite quiet for now, and Russia seems to be handling it relatively well in line with the rest of East Europe. So geographically, our eyes are on Brazil, but once again, a bit of volatility at political level, which obviously affects macro and currency, is nothing new for us, but you just don’t want to, at the same time if you have a COVID macro-related crisis.


Herman Wartoft, Pareto Securities, Research Division – Research Analyst [4]


All right. Great. And we touched a little bit upon it with Creditas and Konfio with slowing loan origination a little bit. Is it possible to quantify that more? Is it — are they halting new loan origination? Or are they just dialing down the planned speed, so to speak, so to say, a little bit for 2020?


David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [5]


Yes. No. It’s fair. It’s — for both, it’s been dialed down. So it’s not been stopped. Definitely, the benchmarks of the quality that gets into the book, you want to keep your book fluid and healthy and growing. If you’re going to grow at, let’s say, 100% of the market, that’s been reduced 50%, 75% in the short term. You’re getting very short-term focus in your iterations, budget planning for full years or now budget planning for the next month, the next 3 months and you’re iterating on that view. So it’s been dialed back aggressively in the short-term with a view of ramping back up towards the back end of the year. Not want to add in incremental bad debt in a window like this as you’re going to be very careful. So all companies have dialed back. What’s been a big positive is the funding side of things. I think you put a bit of stress in emerging markets and you question whether fintech companies can get funding capital, debt, et cetera, in a window like this.

Konfio and Creditas being top of their peer group benchmarks in their countries. It’s been very encouraging, the ability to source and attract funding to keep the machine growing, moving in a window like this. Because it would be worsening for any credit company is you get a credit crisis in terms of funding, at the same time, you’ve got some asset quality strain. And then there’s a lot of focus on the asset quality side to make sure that we manage that aspect of it through this. So it’s more going into monthly, quarterly iterations of life as opposed to 2020 and then 2021 view, almost putting a break on things to make sure cash capital, everything is preserved. Stress test the company because the — actually a positive to give it a good stress test, not that you like it, but it’s essential and then put the foot back on growth as you get out the other side into the back end of the year.


Herman Wartoft, Pareto Securities, Research Division – Research Analyst [6]


All right. And then moving in a little bit to the NAV decline that we saw during the quarter, which, of course, was expected with the market deterioration that we saw in Q1. But you mentioned that you look at — you can divide the NAV declines in 3 different parameters. We have the revenue forecast and also the currency and the multiples. Is it possible to quantify in some way how much of an effect these different 3 things have had on your NAV during the quarter?


David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [7]


It’s very much — not to be avoiding, but it’s very much company by company. And what we saw across the board almost was currency had an impact, almost in every company, to Brazil, Mexico and Russia, to be specific, to degree of 20%, 30%. And then it was probably a net impact of multiples being flat to negative depending on the peer group and then forecast, where some forecast came off versus what we had previously and still went up because we just haven’t buy them in 12 months and actually company was doing a lot stronger in that 12-month period. So the 2020 numbers were, in fact, higher this time around, even though we’re in a crisis window than they were when we did the last investment round. So what I’d say is currency is probably the consistent one and the other 2 are mixed bag. I guess you like — as an analyst under the market, you’re looking forward to guidance in Q2 and then Q3. I think it’ll be volatile in Q2 and Q3, and we just need to live through this. And that’s just the nature of the beast. And what we’ve seen in Q2 so far is a mixed bag with our currencies. And the Brazilian real is down 6% since the peso, Mexico is down 2%, but the ruble is up and so is the Pakistani rupee, and that will continue to be volatile in this window. But I think we’ve had a big chunk of the hits happening already in March. I’d like to think — on the multiples side, clearly, you’ve had a sharp recovery in markets, and I’m not going to get into calling markets, but — and then as analyst earnings, which are forecast and catching up with those, as you know yourself, and with those prices all the time. So the multiples, they’re a bit of a movable beast also. But I think on the forecast side for our companies, we have a good grasp on them and plus or minus, they’re in good place as we move into Q2.


Herman Wartoft, Pareto Securities, Research Division – Research Analyst [8]


All right. Great. And the last question for me. So you talk about, obviously, near term, the focus is a lot on helping the current portfolio companies. While you mentioned that maybe in a later phase of this crisis, in the Phase 2, there might be more opportunities for making investments in the company that might be distressed, et cetera. And I mean, obviously, it’s very hard, and I would say, almost impossible to say when that might be. But can you elaborate a little bit on how you view that internally within the VEF? Is there anything specific that you would like to see happening with either the disease or the market before you would feel more confident about making new investments again?


David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [9]


Yes. No, it’s fair. Look, we have a shopping list. And there are certain companies in our portfolio that we absolutely want more of. And if you invest in the right companies, you’ve got to get the price point right through the cycle. But if you invest in the right companies, you’ve got winning assets over time. And we’ve got a permanent capital vehicle in there longer term, and we learned that through investing and think of you write a great company and you add as you go, even in a market like Russia, which tends to spit you out every 3 to 5 years, you end up with an exceptional asset. So there’s assets like that in our portfolio that we can see doing the same. And it’s very much in our shopping list. But we think there could be more strain in these markets, more strain on other investors wanting to sell their positions. So there’s no need to be putting your foot forward day 1. I think we can sit and wait and watch on that front.

I think outside the portfolio, we’re not going to be looking at anything new that we’ve never seen before because it’s not the ideal window to be investing in new companies that you don’t know. But there are a handful of companies that we know well that we haven’t invested in before. That we’re constantly tracking, like we did with Juspay in the past and Konfio in the past. That we’ll keep tracking through this window. And whether we visit them or not or something may happen with these companies in Q2, Q3, and we can be positioned to be part of that. And clearly, it’ll be a function of market movements and valuations, et cetera. So a lot of what we’re thinking is focus, getting the right companies and the best companies into our portfolio. And this could be an exceptional window for that, but we’re — some of the best value we can do is by doing nothing this year. That could add more value to investors than doing something. So very cognizant of growth factors.


Operator [10]


(Operator Instructions) Okay. There seems to be no further questions at this time. So I’ll hand back to David for closing comments.


David Francis Nangle, Vostok Emerging Finance Ltd. – CEO, MD & Director [11]


Excellent. Thank you, operator. Everybody, thank you very much for your continued interest and support of VEF. We really appreciate it. And appreciate your time on today’s call. Clearly, it’s a very fluid and interesting and difficult environment, but I think we are and our portfolio companies are well placed, as I always say, to survive and then to thrive in this environment. That’s very much our mindset. And if you have any questions following this call, always feel free to contact myself directly or Henrik Stenlund in our Stockholm office, and we’ll be very happy to get back to you and help you out on that front. Thank you.

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