Dynamic development confirms strategy
EBM continued in dynamic fashion to forge a successful growth trajectory in 2017, despite the challenging environment. EBM further consolidated its competitive position and customer relations, improving its overall performance and raising its earnings. Sales were up 18% to CHF 570 million. At CHF 42 million, the operating profit (EBIT) of the EBM Group is in line with expectations. The exceptionally high profit of CHF 185 million is due largely to the partial sale of a shareholding.
EBM’s four business areas – electricity, grid, heating and renewables – again generated good results in 2017. Sales were up 18% compared with the previous year, to CHF 570 million. The increase is attributable mainly to the effects of consolidation following acquisitions. That said, the traditional core business, in particular electricity sales, also registered an increase. EBM closed its financial year 2017 with an operating profit (EBIT) of CHF 42 million and a profit of CHF 185 million. This exceptionally high figure is attributable primarily to the sale of half of EBM’s stake in French energy company Direct Energie. With an equity ratio of 71.8% and a debt ratio of 1.08 (net debt to EBITDA), EBM is on a sound financial footing.
Change to accounting procedures
EBM has changed its accounting procedures in order to avoid the annual fluctuations in value of strategic and long-term power purchase agreements. If this new model had not been adopted, the profit shown in the reporting year would have been substantially higher. The impact on the financial figures for 2016 (restated) and 2017 are shown transparently in the financial statement.
EBM’s electricity business volume in Switzerland and France rose by about 24% compared with the previous year to 6144 million kilowatt hours (kWh). This includes distribution sales – the sale of electricity by EBM and AVAG to customers in the regulated basic supply and free markets. About 90% of customers in the basic supply segment in EBM’s Swiss grid territory (without AVAG) sourced around 472 million kWh of renewable energies with the company’s EBM STANDARD and EBM GRÜN products. As expected, the reporting year again witnessed an increase in the number of major customers that switched from the basic supply to the free market. In our grid territory, 156 major customers receive their energy needs (a total of 152 million kWh) from third-party suppliers. In contrast, EBM acquired 170 major customers with an energy need of 1348 million kWh from outside the grid territory.
More than CHF 52 million was invested in the grid territories of EBM and Aare Versorgungs AG (AVAG) for supply security purposes, thus benefiting 170,000 private and business customers. With an average supply interruption time of 9.6 minutes per customer, EBM and AVAG compare favourably with the rest of Switzerland. The installation of new photovoltaic systems is continuing to show gratifying development. At the end of the reporting year, 1,986 systems were connected to EBM’s distribution grid in Switzerland and 311 systems to that of AVAG, with a combined installed power capacity of 54 megawatts.
Expansion and the further consolidation of existing networks and district heating systems were again features of the heating segment in 2017. Nevertheless, compared with the previous year, sales dropped by CHF 1 million to CHF 58 million. This was due to a decrease of 5% in heating degree days – which are decisive for the heating business – compared with the previous year, and to a prolonged interruption of electricity generation at the heating plant in Saint-Louis, France. In total, EBM supplies heat to more than 28,600 residential homes, commercial premises, school buildings, kindergartens, retirement homes and hospitals. The first facility went live in 1982. EBM now operates more than 214 heating plants in Switzerland and France.
EBM’s activities in the field of renewable energies are concentrated in aventron AG. Over the coming years, aventron aims to build up 1000 megawatts of installed capacity through appropriate projects and mature technologies.
- Joachim Krebs, Head of Corporate Communications, tel. +41 61 415 43 85, email email@example.com