Shareholders have supplied additional funding for Crescent, formerly Option. The Leuven-based IoT specialist has been losing money for years and in an attempt to get the company back on its feet, the Belgian entrepreneur and ex Barco CEO, Eric Van Zele, in early 2018 merged it with his investment firm, Crescent Ventures. The newly formed Crescent, however, is still struggling (link in Dutch). Nevertheless, investors remain confident. Last month, Van Zele’s holding company came across with an additional credit line of 450,000 euros, Alychlo extended an additional loan of 400,000 euros and smaller shareholders promised a total of 200,000 euros, while underlining their intention to provide the company with the necessary resources to achieve its objectives and to meet the urgent working capital needs.
The good news is that Crescent’s smart lighting subsidiary, Innolumis, achieved a turnover of 4,352,000 euros in 2018, an increase of almost 11 percent compared to 2017. The acquisitions, NE-IT Automatisering and NE-IT Hosting, saw their combined revenue grow with 20 percent, to 3,192,000 euros. SAIT, however, had to take a 20 percent fall, with the total turnover in 2018 amounting to 3,619,000 euros. Crescent (formerly Option) was only included in the group results in the last seven months of 2018, which led to a contribution of 2,073,000 euros to group revenue, but which meant a 35 percent decrease in revenue for the company itself compared to 2017. This decrease is attributed to the lower sales of the Cloudgate products as the introduction of the new gamma was postponed due to certification problems.
“When we solved the short-term cash need of Option in January 2017 through the sale of Innolumis to Crescent, a long and difficult process for rescuing the company in a sustainable way and reviving it began immediately,” comments Van Zele. “With the loyal support of many small investors and a few strong reference shareholders, we succeeded in converting a huge financial debt of 29 million euros into capital. At the same time, drastic measures were taken to reduce the workforce in a socially responsible manner and to quickly reduce recurring expenses to an affordable level without affecting the basic competencies of Option. These were important first tactical realizations within a rescue trajectory that few thought possible.”
Van Zele continues: “In 2018, we were able to ensure that Option’s shareholders’ equity was positive again through a reverse takeover with Crescent Ventures. We could then gradually start working on the group’s strategic refocusing with an increased focus on IoT systems and solutions. We chose to quickly and drastically upgrade Option’s Cloudgate platform and to prepare a number of targeted investments in emerging vertical markets for smart lighting and smart energy systems. We recently received support from the government for the latter. We expect the introduction of the new Cloudgate platform to be imminent in the second quarter of 2019. The ultimate turnaround is now really under construction.”