Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I speak to you today representing Sika‘s Senior Management team from the United States and Canada, who join me here on the stage. My name is Rick Montani and I am almost 28 years with Sika in the United States. As you have already seen from our Regional Manager, Christoph Ganz, these are exciting times for us at Sika North America!
And so you can imagine, that watching this fight from a distance, and seeing Saint Gobain try to take control of this company we love, is very difficult – and very concerning. The reality is; We do not NEED Saint Gobain in NORTH AMERICA, and in fact, we have great concerns about them making decisions about our future, and DISRUPTING or DISTRACTING us from the successful path we are on.
So today, we would like to briefly state our concerns, beginning with our Mortars business, which is fast-growing and very important to us.
- Saint Gobain’s WEBER BUSINESS IS OUR COMPETITOR. Though not YET active in NORTH AMERICA, Saint Gobain proudly refers to Weber as its Worldwde Brand for Mortars (just check their website).
- And we know Weber FOR DECADES in our own national and international strategy meetings, and we have been watchful in NORTH AMERICA – expecting to face them at some point in our home market.
- BUT we would expect to face them as a FAIR competitor, not as a competitor who could FULLY CONTROL us with a minority share capital. This is fundamentally wrong. If a competitor CONTROLS your BOARD, they control your DESTINY, and can destroy you having access to your Strategy, your know-how, and your Customers! You simply have no chance, no matter what they try to tell you.
- In this hostile takeover attempt, we can clearly understand WHY Saint Gobain WANTS to take full control of Sika by acquiring only 16% of the share capital. Some may even ADMIRE this as a CLEVER and SHARP business move – to take control of a „pearl“ without having to BUY the ENTIRE company.
- But our position is simple: If SAINT GOBAIN – or anyone else – wants full CONTROL of Sika, they should buy the WHOLE of Sika! For ALL the shareholders, this would be FAIR, this would be LEGAL, and this would HONORABLE!
Another concern is this: IN ACQUISITIONS, YOU ARE TRAINED TO LOOK FOR THE „RED FLAGS“ (the SIGNS OF TROUBLE)
We see „red flags“ everywhere in this deal, probably none greater than the ability to „retain key employees“, like these Senior Managers of Sika assembled here today.
And we see „red flags in“ the proposed synergies (or as we call them, „phantom synergies“). We know there is NOTHING EASIER than creating some nice Powerpoint slides with a long list of synergies. And on a nice slide, they can seem quite believable. But realizing these synergies – in the markets, and in the REAL world – that‘s another story!
Take for example the „phantom“ synergy of Cross Selling they say would result because Sika and SAINT GOBAIN have some comlementary product ranges. But we KNOW about Cross Selling in NORTH AMERICA – we are doing this work for some years. And the truth is, Cross Selling is MUCH more about company CULTURE than about products. Its about TRUST AND TEAMWORK – across your different sales teams, working together, sharing information, customers and relationships.
And quite frankly, after THIS long battle and the CULTURE SHOCK of such a deal, we see Cross Selling as just another „phantom synergy“ Good for powepoints, but not much else.
Our final comments are directed to Mr. Urs Burkard and the family. Urs, we are far away in North America, but you know me, and you know many of us here. AND you know well our dedication to this company. Your brother Fritz has seen this, and even your son Ricardo has seen this, when he worked alongside me and my team in the US, just a few summers ago. We FULLY understand and respect the rights of you and your siblings to sell your stake in Sika. We ALSO understand that change is inevitable. But a company is its PEOPLE – and their dedication and commitment to Sika’s success has brought amazing benefits to ALL of your lives. It is these PEOPLE of Sika who are appealing to you now – to find a better way, to keep Sika independent, and to preserve (rather than destroy) this „Sika Spirit“ – which is the true LEGACY of you and your ancestors.