Astorg Invests in AutoForm

An interview with Benoit Ficheur (BF), Director of Astorg and
Dr. Waldemar Kubli (WK), CEO of AutoForm Group

Benoit Ficheur, Director of Astorg

           Benoit Ficheur, Director of Astorg

Dr. Waldemar Kubli, CEO of AutoForm Group

Dr. Waldemar Kubli, CEO of AutoForm Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question for BF: How would you characterize AutoForm?

The first phrases that come to mind when you hear the name AutoForm are: the leading supplier of software solutions for the sheet metal forming industry, innovation, expertise in the field, high-quality software products well known for their speed and accuracy, smart and serious business approach, reliability, revolutionary cost and time savings, etc. These are all key and decisive characteristics for Astorg as business builders

Question for WK: What has changed for AutoForm customers as a result of the acquisition by Astorg?

AutoForm is an acknowledged industry standard at virtually every automotive OEM and at leading suppliers of tooling, stampings and materials worldwide. Through Astorg’s acquisition, AutoForm remains a reliable, long-term partner for its customers and their sustained success. AutoForm is convinced that with Astorg on board, long-term development for the company, its employees as well as its customers and partners is ensured.

Question for BF: What made AutoForm interesting for Astorg?

As a private equity company, we look to invest in business to business global niche-leaders selling differentiated products or services. AutoForm perfectly matches our requirements and attracted our attention for many reasons. The fact that over 3000 users in more than 800 companies across 40 countries trust in and rely on AutoForm to reduce development time and costs in die design and sheet metal stamping, demonstrates that the company has developed an extremely strong business solution. We were impressed by the company culture combining a strong focus on customer service, satisfaction and anticipated customer needs with a full dedication to continuous innovation. We were also impressed by a management team with very diverse and talented people, sharing the same culture of customer service and technological innovation. I would like to point out that we were delighted by the uniformly positive feedback from AutoForm customers all over the world.

Question for WK: Companies in the software industry are often taken over by software companies. What advantages are there for AutoForm through the acquisition by a private equity company?

Yes, you are right. Very often software companies are acquired by software companies. We have carefully observed such acquisitions and the consequences that arise for both parties involved. In general, there is a high risk that the acquired company must adapt its strategy, technology, expertise and employees to the new surroundings and as a result partly or even completely lose its own identity. We have passionately worked on our identity for more than 20 years and AutoForm’s innovations for rapid and reliable validation of design, engineering and manufacturing processes have profoundly revolutionized the market. As a result of our decision to continue along this path and advance AutoForm solutions for the benefit of our customers, we have taken a private equity company on board. This allows us to maintain our focus on innovating and developing our range of software products but also to expand our product portfolio with innovative complementary software products bringing tangible benefits to our users. Among the many private equity companies we could have chosen, we decided for Astorg, one of the most successful independent private equity companies in Europe. Astorg has an impressive track-record in the area of structuring and performing succession arrangements of mid-sized companies similar to AutoForm.

Question for BF: What are your short-, medium-, and long-term goals for AutoForm?

Astorg is an active partner in improving the businesses that it owns and in creating long-term strategic value, relying on 17 years of firm-wide experience in leveraged buyouts. Our goal is the growth of AutoForm and its presence worldwide. This includes a suitable strategy which allows for the development and delivery of the right products to the right place at the right time. We are convinced that with AutoForm’s already existing products, the new and innovative products which are under development, and the expertise and know-how in the field, we will reach our goals.

Question for WK: Has the acquisition affected your short-, medium-, or long-term strategies?

AutoForm’s strategy, management and goals will remain the same and the company will continue to operate independently in the market, maintaining a strong focus on further growth. We will continue following our mission to provide innovative technological solutions and best-in-class support to ensure competitive advantages for our customers worldwide. We will continue pursuing our passion to support our customers in achieving outstanding results. Today, over 3000 users in more than 800 companies in 40 countries around the world trust in and rely on AutoForm for their key engineering and manufacturing operations. Our objective is to become the software of choice for many more users all over the world and to continue providing all of them with optimal customer care and assistance.

Question for WK: You recently acquired TriboForm. What do you hope to achieve through this acquisition?

This acquisition represents an important contribution to AutoForm’s goal of continuous improvements in stamping simulation accuracy. TriboForm offers software for the simulation of friction and lubrication conditions. Through a more realistic consideration of tribological effects, a new level of simulation accuracy can be achieved. TriboForm’s products will complement AutoForm’s product portfolio and will be offered to the market by local AutoForm subsidiaries as well as by TriboForm itself. The integration of TriboForm’s technology into AutoForm software will bring substantial benefits to AutoForm users.

Question for BF: What will Astorg’s investment imply for AutoForm?

Since its inception in 1998, Astorg has been the majority shareholder of more than 30 companies. All these companies have followed their own path. We favor open dialogues with management and we do not have the intention to impose any “precooked” rigid frameworks as we believe that each of these companies is unique.

We are often asked whether we intend to combine AutoForm with another of our portfolio companies in order to achieve cost or revenue synergies. The answer is clearly no as we believe that AutoForm has an extremely strong identity based on more than 20 years of focused research efforts in the simulation of sheet metal forming processes.

Question for WK: Where do you see AutoForm in 2021?

AutoForm continuously invests in research and development by applying its know-how to produce advanced software solutions which support customers in making faster, safer and more effective decisions. We address the major challenges in the automotive industry, such as CO2 emissions reduction and fuel savings, weight reduction, material consumption optimization of the body-in-white as well as increasing safety regulations. Competition in the automotive industry has led to a larger variety of models, shortened production cycles and stronger cost pressure. These challenges can only be mastered with the right partners and the best solutions. This is where we have so much to offer with our software solutions along the entire process chain particularly focusing on new modern materials, robust production and assembly – in 2021 we definitively want to continue to be the right partner with the best solutions.

Question for BF: What are the benefits for AutoForm customers as a result of the acquisition of Astorg?

Over the past 20 years, AutoForm has revolutionized the die-making and sheet metal forming industries with its innovations, enabling customers to improve the quality of parts at lower costs, with faster production lead time. Astorg is convinced that the future success of AutoForm will also count on innovation. AutoForm will continue to grow constantly advancing the state-of-the-art technologies to its customers and offering innovative solutions which are always faster, easier to use and more accurate while covering a broader spectrum of applications. Astorg has a strong track record of investing in technology companies. Encouraging R&D efforts to enhance value creation for customers in the long run is at the heart of our investment philosophy.

 

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