Nicola De Mattia, Targa: “Our global growth will come from insurtech”
Nicola De Mattia is definitely a man of ambition. Being a competitive skier, he likes to slide smoothly down the Alps and dreams of driving a Ferrari F12 Tour de France, a limited-quantity masterpiece. But, when it comes to chasing goals in telematics, De Mattia is smooth and fast in his strategy as the CEO of Targa Telematics and now the Viasat Group.
The recent acquisition of Viasat Group will help Targa Telematics to get stronger domestically and internationally, enabling access to new markets. CEO De Mattia talked to Fleet Europe, about the new roadmap for the post-acquisition period. Eyeing the competition in the global market closely, De Mattia carefully pursues Targa's goal: "We prefer to be a hunter and to chase instead of being chased. We now have 2,5 million connected assets, including 1,6 million in insurance. By 2023, the aim is to enhance assets by 30%."
Why is the acquisition of Viasat essential for Targa Telematics?
Targa has experienced a long path of organic growth. From 2014 until 2019, we have been the fastest-growing tech company in Italy. But already at that time, we were convinced to continue growth and had to do something unconventional for us. After getting slowed down by Covid, the first step in 2021 was opening our capital to a private equity fund, Investindustrial. We realized consolidation of our small industry was something to be, and so we had the goal to take the first move before any other competitor.
In early 2022, we had a lot of teasers on our tables because most of the telematics service providers (TSPs) all over Europe were on sale. We went for Viasat, because it’s a sort of second part of the fruit; our activity is distinct and one of our top priorities is to push our internationalisation process. Viasat had a strong acquisition campaign in the last five years. They acquired more than ten companies all over Europe. Companies well established and well placed in any critical country for this industry. So, with this acquisition, we have an increased presence in the intra-tech market, as our local presence in Europe includes the UK, France, Spain and Portugal and the new offices in Belgium, Poland, Romania and Chile. This is critical because Targa has always worked with big customers, and we are part of a few companies that are designed to serve large customers.
Does the acquisition represent a merger, or will the two companies continue to operate separately?
Targa will acquire 100% of the Viasat Group, and the two entities will remain separated but operating together via rigorous coordination; through the market segment, by geographies, and another kind of differentiation that we will decide on in time.
From the customer's perspective, what will change in terms of services and benefits?
There'll be a lot of benefits considering that we are one of the largest providers in Europe; after the acquisition, we'll be second. I believe we will take the lead within the next five years. We are the best player to cooperate and partner with big customers to launch continental or global projects. Considering that we are going to create our after-developer capacity and integrate new features and new propositions for our customers, it will make us one of the best players to relate to big companies for big projects in the IoT automotive field.
In what fields do you see new services are being developed?
Viasat is more focused on the insurtech and the small fleet tech market for fleet management, while Targa is focused on large customers like car rentals and OEMs. The fields with the most considerable growth potential are the ones related to insurtech all over Europe. The mobility players in this category are car rentals, long and short-term, in any available option. The market is evolving, and we're new to entering this field. It's a very complex scenario, in which we will lead through this acquisition to electric vehicles, more connected vehicles and new smart mobility services. But anything I'm mentioning is enabled by tech and services, what Targa and Viasat are providing, and what they will provide in the future.
After the integration, what will be your move in Europe and outside of Europe to serve multinational fleets and further expand geographically?
You're pointing out a crucial point for us. We want to establish a footprint beyond the European continental level. But first we have to strengthen our position, reach and notoriety across Europe. But in the end our ambition is to create the first global company in this field.
Does this mean companies like Geotab or MiX Telematics are not global?
Well, they are globally active and yes they are larger than us, but I’m convinced that a European company is better skilled and equipped to become a true global leader. This because we're used to the bigger complexity of serving different markets, incorporating different languages and being more flexible for facing very different needs.
Coming back to your global expansion. What about North America?
The entry ticket to the North American market is quite expensive. It’s not our priority. We want to wait to take this step and first become bigger, so we have more potential to be used.
Your operations in Latin America have slowed down recently. Will you be accelerating your activity in that region?
Latin America is not a single market, it’s an aggregation of very different markets and practices. Countries in that region differ significantly in terms of car exchange issues and economic variables. By acquiring Viasat, we will be present in Chile and work on the Chilean market. But in the short term, I don't see a big expansion for us in Latin America.
APAC is a complex and huge region. Any plans there?
You have Asia on one side, and Australia on the other. On the Asian market, it is much easier for local companies to get into this market and be successful than it is for foreign companies. The tech side is very specific, the market is enormous, but the demand could be more tech-focused and complex. On the other hand, the investment attitude is a meagre cost. And this is not compliant with our work line. In the short-medium term I don’t see us opening up shop in Asia.
Do you see any opportunities in Africa?
Yes, Africa is one of the fastest-growing economies in terms of local aspects. In this area, there're a lot of opportunities. We'll try to get there through our Belgian affiliate, acquired through the Viasat acquisition, because theyr’re already present in some African markets.
What is the ambition in terms of connected vehicles or growth?
Targa Telematics today has 2,5m connected assets, including 1,6m in insurance. By 2023, the aim is to enhance assets by 30% and reach an overall revenue of €130m.
The main image shows Nicola De Mattia, CEO Targa Telematics, courtesy of Targa Telematics