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Rocket Internet, the German investor in technology start-ups, reported a net loss of €741.5m for 2016, more than three times its loss for 2015.

The company said some of the companies in its portfolio had shown “progress on their way towards profitability” in 2016, though most continued to be loss-making.

Peter Kimpel, chief financial officer, said the 2016 overall loss was “clearly disappointing” but said it was mainly the result of “one-off and non-cash effects”. For example, the company took an impairment on a funding round in online retail start-up Global Fashion Group.

Rocket was announcing results two months after its biggest investor said it was selling half of its 13 per cent stake in the company.

Swedish group Kinnevik announced the move months after withdrawing its representatives from Rocket’s supervisory board. It had been Rocket’s largest investor outside its founders Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer. But Kinnevik and the Samwers had clashed over how to value Rocket’s stakes in the various companies in its portfolio.

Rocket listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 2014 but its shares have slid since then amid concerns as to whether any of the start-ups in which it invests would ever turn a profit.

The company built its business on copying ecommerce models pioneered in Silicon Valley and launching them in emerging markets in Africa, Russia and Latin America. The companies in its portfolio include Hello Fresh, a food delivery start-up, and home and living companies Westwing and Home24.

Mr Kumpel said that 2016 was a “overall a very good year, characterised by good growth and big strides in improving profitability”.

Revenues across its focus sectors – food and groceries, fashion, general merchandise and home and living – grew by 29 per cent from €1.7bn in 2015 to €2.2bn in 2016. Rocket said the losses at its biggest companies before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell by €234m and the aggregate ebitda margin improved by 16 percentage points from minus 31 per cent in 2015 to minus 15 per cent in 2016.

Mr Kumpel said Rocket was sticking to its pledge that three of its portfolio companies would be profitable by the end of the year.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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