ISRA announces stock split and higher dividend – Further acquisitions targeted

ISRA VISION AG (ISIN: DE 0005488100), one of the world’s top companies for industrial image processing (machine vision) and a global leader in surface inspection of web materials and 3D machine vision applications, has announced that the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board will be proposing a stock split at the Annual General Meeting on March 28, 2018. Following an capital increase from company funds, each shareholder will receive four more ISRA shares at no charge. For every share held before the split, shareholders will thus own five shares after the split. The share price will be divided by five accordingly. Shareholders’ voting rights or the company’s market capitalization or equity will not be affected.

Furthermore, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board will continue the sustainable dividend policy of past years and will be proposing a dividend of EUR 0.59 per current share at the Annual General Meeting for the 2016 / 2017 financial year. ISRA is therefore increasing its dividend for the eighth time in a row to allow its shareholders to successively participate directly in the company’s operational development.

The integration of Polymetric GmbH, which was acquired in January 2018, is progressing rapidly. In addition to this technologically motivated takeover, as announced in December 2017, the company is continuing its strategy of further growth through acquisitions in addition to organic business expansion. Several acquisition projects are in progress and some are at an advanced stage. The company is assuming one further deal in the current financial year.

After a good start into the new 2017 / 2018 financial year, ISRA is still gearing its strategic and operational planning towards structural expansion in all areas of the company in preparation for the next big step in revenues beyond EUR 200 million. Management is planning low double-digit revenue growth for the 2017 / 2018 financial year, as in the previous year, with margins at least remaining stable. The company will publish a detailed forecast at the end of February 2018.


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Uber’s data privacy breach – the consequences

We are now less than six months away from the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is expected to produce massive changes to be implemented by businesses when handling the data of third parties.

Among the GDPR’s most headline-grabbing provisions are the significantly increased administrative fines. There is also the requirement that the relevant supervisory authority must be advised of personal data breaches by data controllers “without undue delay and, where feasible, not later than 72 hours after having become aware of it” (GDPR article 33 sec. 1).

The Bloomberg news agency recently published the fact that the controversial ride-sharing company Uber was aware of a significant breach of data in 2016 when it is alleged to have paid hackers US $100,000 to delete the personal data it had acquired of some 57 million customers (and self-employed drivers). The information was obtained by the hackers when they penetrated Uber’s cyber-defences, but Uber cannot avoid blame if it failed to take adequate steps to ensure that the data was protected from exposure in the first place. It is a possible indicator of perceived liability that Uber’s chief security officer has now resigned from the company.

The GDPR does not always receive good publicity from businesses on account of the perceived need to deploy significant resources to achieve compliance. However, Uber’s breach underlines the fact that article 33 is needed. The tougher regime on data breaches will be welcomed by the public at large.

Uber’s conduct is understood to be presently under discussion by the EU data protection authorities.

Under current data protection legislation, the relevant supervisory authority should be notified of any significant breach of data . Uber has already been fined for failing to disclose another breach of data that took place in 2014 (the €20,000 penalty for that was derisory). Further action is likely before the GDPR becomes law in connection with the 2016 breach.

When the GDPR is in force, it is likely that the cover-up of a serious breach of data of this nature will incur a heavy administrative fine. The potential maximum could be £10,000,000 or up to 2% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher (GDPR article 83 sec. 4(a)). Supervisory authorities may want to demonstrate the impact of the GDPR by levying significant fines on prominent organisations such as Uber. If Uber once again exposes itself to a significant breach of data after 24th May, 2018 (the GDPR implementation date), and fails to disclose it quickly enough, it may be fined for both the lack of adequate data security measures as well as for any cover up. It would also have to disclose the breach to any of its customers who are affected. In addition to the other controversies Uber has recently faced, the combined effect of a serious monetary penalty as well as the bad public relations that would follow anyway may have a significant impact on the company’s viability.

Laurie Heizler, Of Councel, Barlow Robbins LLP,

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asknet AG: strong year-end and a promising start of the eCommerce Solutions Business Unit into the new year

  • High sales performance in the shops processed by asknet at the turn of the year 2017/18
  • Several new customers and new partnership for US sales in the eCommerce Solutions Business Unit
  • Group earnings forecast for 2017 increased

asknet AG, part of the Swiss-listed content marketing, technology and eCommerce services group The Native SA, announces a significantly better performance in its software online shops business segment at the turn of the year 2017/18, than initially forecast.

“Cyber-Monday and Black Friday already indicated a strong year-end performance. However, the Christmas business once again exceeded expectations," commented Jan Schöttelndreier, Vice President eCommerce Solutions. New software releases from several asknet customers contributed to this development.

In addition, the eCommerce Solutions Business Unit was able to win three more new customers from Asia at the turn of the year. Following the successful sales strategy in the APAC region, the company is now also stepping up its efforts to address software manufacturers in North America. A new distribution partnership in the USA, which was also concluded at the end of 2017, will contribute to this development.

Moreover, asknet is adjusting its earnings expectations for the year 2017 upwards (see ad hoc announcement dated January 19, 2018). On the basis of preliminary figures, and contrary to prior forecasts, the Company is now expecting a positive operating result. The main reason for this increase is the decision of the executive board and the supervisory board to start capitalizing software development costs in the fiscal year 2017. The good performance at the end of the year and the numerous new customers acquired in November and December led to additional earnings, thus adding further positive impact. The performance of asknet had also been enhanced with the positive effect from synergies with The Native SA following completion of the change of control transaction in early November.

“In a dynamic market with constantly shorter product cycles, it is of great importance to document the value of our software development efforts. By adapting to this industry standard, we can position ourselves more clearly in relation to other market participants and customers in terms of innovative strength and future viability,“ commented Tobias Kaulfuss, CEO of asknet AG.

Gross profit will initially be weaker than in the previous year due, among other things, to the marked decline in demand for a software release from a major customer over the course of the year.

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Elke Reichart to replace Karin Schick on Bechtle Supervisory Board

Elke Reichart has been appointed as a new member of the Bechtle AG Supervisory Board, effective on 4 December 2017. The experienced IT expert is to succeed Karin Schick who is stepping down after 14 years in order to focus on her social projects. But Bechtle’s principal shareholder wasn’t going anywhere without first securing a highly capable replacement, making significant experience in IT and digitalisation a key prerequisite. In Elke Reichart, Bechtle’s Supervisory Board is gaining an internationally recognised industry insider. Between 1991 and 2017, she held various managerial positions at HP, ultimately becoming Vice President at the IT company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, USA.

Karin Schick—as the major shareholder—will continue to foster her close ties with Bechtle and keep her shares in the company for a long time yet, albeit from the other side of the table. Her father and co-founder of Bechtle, Gerhard Schick, will continue to hold his position as honorary chairman. Both Schick father and daughter, together with Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dr Matthias Metz, have kept a close eye on the plans for Ms Schick’s succession. “In Elke Reichart we’ve found an outstanding new member of the Bechtle Supervisory Board, someone who can inject valuable momentum into our company. I’ve always been convinced of Bechtle’s strength as a company, I see great potential for growth and I’m incredibly proud to be able to continue to play a role in this remarkable success story as a shareholder”, says Karin Schick.

After completing her studies, Elke Reichart began her career as a sales representative at HP. After three years she was already in charge of a entire subsidiary and subsequently went on to occupy positions with ever increasing responsibility in international revenue and leadership. In 2012 she was promoted to Vice President for Strategy and Planning at HP’s headquarters in Palo Alto. As part of HP’s restructuring programme, she assumed leadership of an international team including employees from all business sectors responsible for determining and achieving financial and operative goals. Elke Reichart also served as a member of the HP GmbH, Böblingen supervisory board from 2009 to 2016. The new member of the Bechtle AG supervisory board works as a freelancer and lives with her three children in the German town of Ammerbuch.

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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Niemeyer is leaving the company at his own request

On December 31, 2017, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Niemeyer, chairman of the Executive Management Board at KHS GmbH, is leaving the company at his own request to face new challenges elsewhere. In his years in this post he has sustainably furthered technological product development, made an important contribution to significantly increasing sales and bringing about a number of considerable improvements for both the KHS Group and its customers. The Supervisory Board of KHS GmbH would like to thank Professor Niemeyer most sincerely for his committed and successful work in the service of the company. We wish him all the best for the future and continued further success in both his private life and professional career.

Until a final decision has been made regarding the new appointment to the post of chairman of the Executive Management Board, Mr. Burkhard Becker shall assume the position of chairman of the Executive Management Board of KHS GmbH in addition to his role as member of the Salzgitter AG Executive Management Board.

The further members of the Executive Management Board of KHS GmbH,

Prof. E.h. Dr.-Ing. Johann Grabenweger (Sales and Service) and
Martin Resch (Finance, Purchasing, IT & Legal Affairs),

shall continue to perform their duties as before.

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