The company was founded by Juan José Martínez in 1984 and has become an international leader in various sectors, notably aerospace. How has GMV evolved, and what have been its milestones?
GMV was founded in 1984 with the vision of becoming an important company in the European space sector and with a strong technological element. The company has grown from a working group at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, led by Professor Martínez García, to a multinational technology group. We are now a point of reference and leader in the space sector not only in Spain, but globally. In addition, the company's strategy aims to diversify technologies developed in the space sector to other sectors of activity. This led to the initiation of activities in the defense and security sector, as well as in intelligent transport systems, information, and communication technologies for the digitization of public administration, finance, and large companies. In fact, in recent years, this diversification of space technology to other sectors of activity has turned around and spin-in of technologies developed in other industries have been applied, for instance, cybersecurity. Aerospace, which was the origin of the company, remains the most important, although the company has grown significantly in all its business lines, this sector accounts for 65% of annual turnover. Defense and security make up around 10% of our annual turnover, while intelligent transport systems account for 15% and ICT for public administration and large companies make up the remaining 10%. Currently, GMV has subsidiaries in 11 countries, including Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, the US, Colombia, and Malaysia. In addition, we have operations and projects in over 70 countries. Last year, we become the sixth-largest European employer space industrial group. Currently, GMV is the world's number-one independent supplier of ground control systems for commercial telecommunications satellite operators and the European leader in the ground segment of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (EGNOS and Galileo). In 2018, we were awarded our largest-ever contract. It was also the largest contract awarded to a Spanish space company. It concerns the maintenance and evolution of the ground control segment of Galileo in its operational phase. Another important milestone was the award in 2019 of a contract for development of a GNSS based precise and integral system for the new generation of autonomous vehicles of the German carmaker BMW Group.
Before the pandemic, GMV had growth forecast of 10%. How did the company close 2020?
In 2020, we grew by 9%. We closed 2019 with EUR237 million in turnover, 6% EBITDA, and 2,170 employees. The 2020 accounts have not yet been approved, so we cannot provide much information, though we have almost EUR260 million in turnover and more than 2,300 employees. The sectors we trade in have not been heavily impacted by the pandemic, as demand has remained strong. In January 2020, we launched our business continuity and crisis management plan in all our worldwide offices and began deploying what we were using in current operations. First of all, we already had a large part of the IT infrastructure deployed, because some employees were working from home. Secondly, we have an infrastructure that connects to all the computer networks in all the countries in which we are present; we leveraged this and began monitoring the situation afterwards. Although the pandemic has had an impact, the understanding of customers has helped significantly, as several activities have been carried out remotely. However, the planned 10% has been reduced to 9% due to the impact of the pandemic on other sectors and travel restrictions in some cases: we have to deploy our systems in different locations and we have found some limitations delaying the completion of some projects.
An expansion in Brussels has been announced, with new headquarters to support European space activities. What is GMV's strategy to support Europe's space initiatives?
The European Commission is key for us, since GMV's technological component and R&D investments are particularly important. Our developments in technology and research are largely supported by our own investment and resources, though we also use national and international resources and initiatives. The European Commission plays a relevant role for European countries, and, since our beginnings, we have placed a great interest in its initiatives. The second aspect is that the European Commission is playing an increasingly important role in different economic areas, particularly in the space sector, and GMV is a European benchmark in this sector. The importance of those aspects and the roadmap for the future are clearly shown in the approved EU's new multiannual financial plan 2021/2027, in which there are very important R&D initiatives such as the Horizon Europe program and, in addition, the new European Space Program, with an important financial package for key programs such as Galileo or Copernicus. These programs provide the space infrastructure which is needed and important in other sectors, such as transportation, communications, and weather forecasting. It was time to have a permanent presence in Brussels in order to increase and improve our dialogue with the European institutions.
As a result of Brexit, British industry will not be able to participate in the EU's space programs and will instead allocate the investment it was making in the EU on its own sector. What strategy does GMV have for this market?
GMV has had a subsidiary in the UK since 2014. It is an extremely important country in the space field, both when it was in the EU as well as a previous and current member of the European Space Agency where it is the fourth-largest contributor. We will have to see how the Brexit agreement turns out. The UK will not be able to access EU programs, but it will continue to be a member of the European Space Agency, as they are different entities, and with a very important contribution. We have been thinking of increasing our presence in the UK for a few years, both because of its relevance and trying to grow a subsidiary there. Furthermore, we aimed to consolidate our position and to become a more relevant player in the context of British market. NSL was a company with a solid and recognized prestige and track record in high-tech projects and we knew each other well since we have been working together for about 20 years. Finally, we reached an agreement in line with the GMV's established objectives and it was found also of interest for NSL.
Is GMV planning any new subsidiaries or acquisitions in Europe or other markets?
At the start of the century, GMV rolled out a far-reaching internationalization plan for its longstanding business lines. Then, we set up companies in different countries during the first decade. We began our acquisitions in 2005 in Portugal and launched an important international deployment in 2009. Then, some other companies in different countries follow: the US in 2015, , Germany in 2016, and the UK in 2020. We continue to pursue our growth strategy and are always looking for acquisitions or mergers. However, our objective is not growing for growth's sake. First and foremost, our strategy is to carry out inorganic operations that make sense from a technological point of view and generate important synergies. The next step is to see if the other party is interested in a transaction.
What are the main objectives of GMV for 2021?
In the current circumstances of global uncertainty our objectives are mainly to keep our employees safe and to fulfill the commitments with our customers. In addition to that, we aim to return to double-digit growth based on technological and innovative projects and to strengthen our position as a global benchmark in the sectors we trade in.