The single most important change compared to 2016, both for the balance sheet and the income statement of the GfK Verein (since February 2019 Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions), is that for the first time in many years, the GfK SE did not pay out a dividend in 2017. In 2016, this cash flow represented almost 96 % of the GfK Verein’s earnings. The GfK Verein has now made provisions and built a financial cushion of over €25 million in recent years. These funds were partially used to finance the GfK Verein in 2017.
GfK SE will also not pay out a dividend in 2018. Consequently, the GfK Verein will continue to use past savings to finance its activities. At the same time, savings were already realized in 2017 and will be increased in 2018 as well as in following years in order to broaden the scope of these funds.
The Balance Sheet: Assets
In 2017, financial assets are also the most important item on the assets side of the balance sheet. The 20.61 million shares in GfK SE, which are held by the GfK Verein, appear in the balance sheet at an average of €1.90, which results in a valuation of €39.2 million. For the squeeze-out, the shares were transferred to KKR as part of a securities loan. After the squeeze-out, they were transferred back from KKR to the GfK Verein on October 18, 2017, as agreed. Since then, all shares have been held in the custodian accounts of the GfK Verein. The item “land and buildings” relates to the building at Schnieglinger Str. 57, which belongs to the GfK Verein.
The item “business and office equipment” increased once, because the GfK Verein made itself independent from GfK SE with regard to its IT. In the long term, this will lead to a cost reduction, because the structure can be better tailored to the needs of the much smaller GfK Verein. In the short term, however, investments were necessary. In addition, investments were made in hardware in order to investigate new market research methods, such as virtual reality.
Other assets mainly relate to a loan made to GfK SE by the GfK Verein. As mentioned above, the loan was used to finance the day-to-day activities and has decreased accordingly.
The Balance Sheet: Equity and Liabilities
The liability side is dominated by equity. This decreased by €10.4 million, which corresponds to the net loss for the year. However, the equity ratio is over 97 % even without taking hidden reserves into consideration. Other provisions mainly include a fee for legal services related to the squeeze out, which had not yet been paid as of the end of the year.
Revenue mainly includes two items: the income generated from the academy and rental income from the building on Schnieglinger Street 57. The GfK Verein uses part of this building and leases the other part to GfK SE and the Sparkasse Nuremberg.
The GfK Academy has had to deal with increasing declines in recent years. The GfK Verein then tried out a new concept with shorter and less expensive seminars in 2017. The first of these seminars was fully booked. However, the second seminar had to be canceled due to lack of participation. The decision was therefore made to close the Academy. This decreased the revenue of the Academy from €98 thousand to €32 thousand.
The costs for purchased services could be reduced by €300 thousand. These include the costs for the studies for the member newsletters, the remuneration of the cooperation partners for research projects, the remuneration of GfK SE for the administrative work of GfK SE carried out there, payments for the instructors of the GfK Academy as well as for the authors and agency for our journal, the GfK Marketing Intelligence Review (GfK MIR).
Savings in the amount of around €800 thousand could also be realized in other operating expenses. First, the expense for financial and legal services could be significantly reduced. A further reduction is expected for 2018 because the costs for legal services in relation to the squeeze-out will be eliminated. Lastly, this position also includes the costs for the committees of the GfK Verein, which likewise decreased.
In contrast, personnel costs increased, because the effect associated with the hiring of two new employees in the area of the future of market research and university contacts are reflected in the full-year results for the first time.
In total, the costs for 2017 could be reduced by €900 thousand. Nevertheless, the GfK Verein closed the 2017 fiscal year with a loss of around €10.4 million, which was taken from other retained earnings.