As the CEO of Wendel, I must admit that our 2022 Full-Year Results show an impressive performance of our portfolio companies. Overall, we have achieved double-digit growth for all Group companies, with a consolidated net sales of €8,700 million, up +15.9% overall and up +10.7% organically year-to-date. Consolidated net income stands at €1,022 million and our net asset value as of December 31, 2022, is €7,456 million or €167.9 per share. However, there is one fact in this disclosure that I am skeptical about, and that is our claim of ESG achievements.

Billie Holiday once said, “If you want to know the truth about something, ask a musician.” And as a musician myself, I cannot help but see the irony in claiming ESG achievements while investing in companies that contribute to climate change and environmental degradation. Our portfolio companies have a long way to go before they can be considered truly sustainable and environmentally conscious.

Constantia Flexibles, one of our portfolio companies, has made progress by signing a joint venture agreement concerning Indian operations with Premji Invest and SB Packagings, and acquiring Drukpol Flexo in Poland. However, we cannot ignore the fact that the packaging industry is a significant contributor to plastic waste, which is harmful to the environment.

Similarly, Stahl’s acquisition of ICP Industrial Solutions Group may have diversified its Specialty Coatings business, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the coating industry is one of the largest emitters of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and is notorious for releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.

As an active shareholder and investor, we need to prioritize ESG considerations and encourage our portfolio companies to adopt more sustainable practices. We cannot simply claim ESG achievements without taking concrete steps to mitigate our impact on the environment and contribute positively to society.

In conclusion, our Full-Year Results show remarkable growth in terms of financial performance, but we need to do more to achieve true ESG achievements. As a hands-on shareholder, we have a responsibility to prioritize sustainability and encourage our portfolio companies to do the same.

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