GTT, this French industrialist with 550 employees who is worth 4 billion on the stock market

Posted Nov 13, 2022, 9:30 AM

It is a company founded almost sixty years ago which is currently looking like a start-up. For only 550 employees, GTT (for Gaztransport and Technigaz) has a market capitalization of more than 4 billion euros. What to compete with some young shoots of Silicon Valley.

The order book of the company, whose headquarters is located in another valley (that of Chevreuse) is always full. For a very simple reason: its technology now equips all new LNG carriers. And this market is booming with the boom in liquefied natural gas (LNG). Since the start of the year, GTT has already received 138 orders – and should reach 150 by the end of December – compared to 68 in 2021.

“Asian shipyards are running at full speed. Today there are 600 LNG carriers in the world and their lifespan is about forty years. Logically, there should therefore be 15 ships ordered every year. However, this year we will be at 150”, confides the CEO of GTT, Philippe Berterottière.

A technology company

Founded in 1965, GTT then offered a solution for transporting the gas recently discovered in Algeria to France. As the market evolved, the company then experienced ups and downs, but it has not changed course and is now reaping the fruits of this perseverance.

“We focused on our job as an LNG carrier. In times of crisis, what is important is to succeed in retaining skills. When I arrived, we hadn’t had orders for three years. But we were able to keep the skills and we were ready when the market took off,” explains Philippe Berterottière.

To ensure a certain activity, the company has developed engineering consulting businesses, but the rise of LNG from the 2000s, with the arrival on the market of Qatar and then the United States, really made it take off. .

Since then, GTT has established itself as the undisputed market leader. “We are constantly improving our technology, allowing LNG carriers to transport more, lowering costs, improving the evaporation rate of the tanks, says Philippe Berterottière. We’re way ahead of the competition but we’re paranoid, it’s the only way I’ve found to stay ahead. »

If the rate of loss of gas from LNG carriers has dropped (approximately 0.07% of the cargo, per day, now), the sector owes it in large part to GTT’s technology. And the losses are now recovered to propel the ship…

A future “hydrogen producer”

If LNG should be enough to ensure its growth in the years to come, the French company is already planning on the next generation of energy. It is currently working on a hydrogen project, which would be used to transport green hydrogen (produced from carbon-free energies).

“The hydrogen economy will arrive much faster than expected, probably in the second half of the decade, predicts the boss of GTT. But we are doing everything to be ready around 2025-2026, rather than 2029. For hydrogen, the insulation must be even better because the temperature must be colder. It’s quite complex in terms of technology, but we put all the science that we have accumulated in methane at the service of hydrogen. »

At the same time, the company is exploring the transport of carbon, convinced that it will be necessary to transport large quantities of carbon in the years to come.

Engie, historical shareholder

The gas group, GTT’s reference shareholder since the 1960s, once controlled 40% of the capital. A few days ago, it fell below 15%, as part of the conversion of 290,000 exchangeable bonds into existing GTT ordinary shares. At the end of the operation, Engie, still present on the board of directors, should retain around 5% of the capital.

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