Six-month review with head of IR at TRATON GROUP

Nov 26, 2019
After 12 years at Continental, Rolf Woller, the multi-IR Magazine Award-winner, moved to the truck and bus division of Volkswagen ahead of its IPO

Has the job lived up to your expectations so far?

Yes – I think it’s fair to describe it as interesting, intense and challenging. We had our capital markets day on January 29, the IPO was postponed on March 13, restarted on May 13 and the listing happened on June 28. This was all possible because there is a great team spirit within TRATON. As you can imagine, restarting an IPO process and going public within more or less six weeks is a huge challenge to all central functions, and the legal and finance departments in particular. Luckily I had the help of my colleagues to give me a kick start in the role.

What does your typical day look like?

There hasn’t been much of a typical day over these first eight months: we thought we would run more on ‘routine mode’ heading into the summer break after reporting our H1 results on July 29, which were well received by the market. But the US-China trade discussions as well as Brexit brought some volatility to the capital markets and specifically to the capital goods sector. So there is always something new to learn about the truck industry, about TRATON and the market. That’s the exiting part of the IR job.

Given these challenges, what has helped most in the role so far?

Everyone who has ever worked on an IPO knows it is not a linear process toward the day of listing. You have to tick so many boxes: is the equity story attractive? Will the capital markets stay supportive? Is there enough interest among investors, and will the valuation be attractive for the seller, and, and, and! So setbacks in such a process are unavoidable.

In addition to the support from my colleagues, my network of buy-side and sell-side contacts and the equity capital markets teams at different banks have all been of great help.

I also had to understand that TRATON is only three years old [it was known as Volkswagen Truck & Bus until August 2018] and is, in some ways, like a patchwork family. But dealing with different corporate cultures and respecting each of them is key to establishing the IR function in any corporation.

What has been the biggest challenge – and the biggest highlight – in the job so far?

The biggest highlight was of course June 28 when we got to see our CEO and CFO ring the bell at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and other board members ring the bell at Nasdaq Stockholm at the same time. But also hearing from your colleagues that the IR effort was crucial to this process makes you really proud of the team.

In my view, however, the biggest challenges are still ahead of us. Getting listed is one thing – you get a lot of support from external lawyers, from your syndicate banks and from different service providers – but the real work starts now: establishing TRATON in the capital markets, especially in light of our dual listing, and preparing for the next steps of our Global Champion Strategy. All this lies ahead of us and the current capital markets environment for cyclical companies can clearly be viewed as demanding.

So there’s still a lot of work ahead but it is exciting and I look forward to tackling these challenges with a great team, great colleagues and the full support of our executive board.

This article was published in the Winter 2019 issue of IR Magazine.

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