Interview: Eurotech’s Andrea Barbaro

Dec 05, 2011
<p>Barbaro explains the link between his work in IR and strategy</p>

At a recent investor conference, IR Magazine caught up with Andrea Barbaro, IR manager and strategic planning analyst at Borsa Italiana-listed Eurotech, to discuss volatility, targeting and splitting his time between IR and strategy.

How does market volatility affect investment conferences like STAR?

The current situation affects these kind of events because some investors really prefer to stay at their desks. They are a little worried about leaving their desk to attend a meeting and being the only one who is not there when something big happens.

Andrea Barbaro of EurotechMany of your customers are based in the US. Have you made any progress targeting US investors?

For sure the US is a market of interest, not only for the business but also from the point of investors. As a matter of fact, a lot of our peers are US-based companies, so it seems to be quite natural to think of the US as a place where we can find investors and not only customers.

So this is the situation at present: trips over there? Yes. Roadshows? No. We don’t have the critical mass in terms of market cap to justify a roadshow. We keep talking to this kind of audience because you never know when they will transform their interest into an investment.

In Italy, shareholders who own less than 2 percent of a company can remain anonymous. What’s the impact of this on IR?

To a certain extent, we can guess who these people are. It’s a pity we don’t know them because it would be interesting to get in touch to give more information, to make sure they understand the investment case and the essence of Eurotech.

But maybe it’s also a good thing that they can act without being tracked, and so maybe they feel more ready to start investing without disclosing their strategy to other investors. So there are pros and cons to this threshold. I haven’t decided yet if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

You work in a dual IR and strategy role. How much time do you spend on each area?

It’s almost 50-50, on average. Of course, in certain periods I dedicate more time on the strategy and in other periods I spend more time on investor relations. But there is a tight connection because in a company like Eurotech, where the key point is a strategy for growth, it’s very important to be involved in the definition of the strategy in order to be able to communicate it to investors.

We haven’t reached yet the size and the level of business that we want to achieve, so we are not at the point where we just talk about financials and dividends. There is a story to tell: where we come from, where we are now, where we want to go. And the strategy is the link between the present and future, and is the key point that can trigger the interest of an investor.

Italian industrial giant Finmeccanica has an 11 percent stake in your company. How do other investors view that stake?

No one sees it in a negative way. They go from neutral to slightly positive. They are, relatively speaking, the biggest shareholder we have, but they own only 11 percent of the company. Eighty percent is the free float, so we are still a true public company. The stake Finmeccanica owns doesn’t make us a Finmeccanica company. We are still a minority interest for them.

Some investors see this in a positive way, as they see Finmeccanica as a big brother that can look after us in case something happens.

Where do you see your career heading?

Any kind of management position is of interest. I have this great opportunity to be in the definition of the strategy of a very nice company like Eurotech, and I’m really enjoying this part of the job.

On the other side, I find it very interesting to have the opportunity to speak to investors and analysts because it’s a way to understand how the company is perceived outside.

I like this balance I have between the two positions, so it would be really hard to decide to go 100 percent on just one role. Of course, sometimes it’s tough, it’s not 50-50, it’s 70-70, but I always do my best to handle that.

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