November 9th, 2021 | 10:57 CET
Peter Thiel-like returns: Commerzbank, Weng Fine Art, Aspermont, TeamViewer
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"[...] In Canada, there is $1.75 of debt for every dollar of disposable income - and that was true even before the pandemic. [...]" Karim Nanji, CEO, Marble Financial
Commerzbank joins forces with Weng Fine Art
One Company that sounds a bit dusty at first, but has a fair amount of fintech imagination in it, is Commerzbank. Yes, you read that right! The somewhat dull bank from Frankfurt no longer enjoys the reputation of days gone by, but the bankers have shown a good hand with investments in the past. For years, they invested in the US Company Marqeta, which offers interfaces for payment flows. This Company is now worth a whopping USD 4.3 billion. Although Commerzbank's share is estimated to be only in the low single digits, it only paid tens of millions in several tranches years ago.
Commerzbank is also involved in the German fintech 360X, which aims to make a splash around the tokenization of real estate and art, together with Deutsche Börse. A few months ago, emerging art dealer and small-cap star Weng Fine Art also took a stake in 360X, making the Company's vision around innovative forms of investment seem a little clearer. Cue digital art in the form of NFTs. And the core business of Commerzbank? It is just plodding along. Although the bank has recently returned to profitability, the digitization of its core business is not working out for the successful fintech investor. The management staff also changes frequently. Let's hope that the successful investment strategy is not up for grabs in the long term - it wouldn't be the first time that managers have made the wrong decisions under pressure.
Aspermont: Are hundreds of contacts pushing the fintech project?
The right decisions were made a few years ago by the Australian media Company Aspermont. At that time, the Company was on the verge of going out of business and completely turned itself around digitally. The result: today, the Company is in the black and generates rich cash flows. Digitization means that media content can be used more than once, and lucrative subscription models can be sold. Aspermont serves many affluent customers with brands such as Mining Magazine, aimed at mining companies, and numerous other publications from the agricultural sector to industrial companies. Aspermont has been increasingly successful in monetizing these long-standing relationships, most recently reporting a 25% increase in revenue with a 39% increase in gross profit.
At the same time, Aspermont announced plans to launch its own corporate finance platform in the second quarter of next year. While precisely what the model will look like remains to be seen, Aspermont points to the great potential that can come from its network. Banks and other intermediaries usually take a big slice of the pie when it comes to investments of this kind. A digital solution could cut costs and still score high on performance thanks to Aspermont's expertise. The stock rose sharply early this year but has since corrected. Given the profitability and growth prospects, the stock is worth considering. Aspermont combines a digital core business with innovative projects. The share is trading at just over one cent in Germany. The reason for the penny-stock existence is the home stock exchange in Australia. Quotations in the cent range are nothing disreputable there but rather signal growth fantasy.
TeamViewer: The competition never sleeps
The TeamViewer share also exuded the latter fantasy after the outbreak of the pandemic. When everyone was rushing off to the home office, TeamViewer, the remote PC control software, benefited from the circumstances. Since then, a lot has happened: an investment company has cashed in, and the Company has put up a lot of money to expand. This course was eyed skeptically by the market, and the stock dropped at times. However, the Company recently achieved a remarkable success: TeamViewer was in the black - and the share price rose again. However, given an annual loss of 63%, this is at best a flash in the pan. TeamViewer may be digital and have good products, but the Company also operates in a shark tank. The competition is fierce.
While Commerzbank's sluggish core business is wiping out smart investments in fintech and other startups, TeamViewer has to compete with the big players in the industry; any software company can become a competitor. Aspermont, on the other hand, operates in a niche market. The media company has long since become a small but mighty tech player with hundreds of companies worldwide as customers. That holds potential and sparks imagination.
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