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EBM on course for success

EBM is on track for success in a challenging environment. While concentrating on its strategic core business, it was able to increase sales by 5.4 percent to CHF 420 million. The consistent implementation of measures aimed at building the company's financial strength helped increase the operating result (EBIT) to CHF 21 million, up 58 percent on the previous year. EBM succeeded in holding its own in the competition to provide electricity to major customers in Switzerland and was also able to acquire new customers outside its grid area. The interest in green energy is growing. Some 90 percent of EBM's basic service customers get over 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources through EBM STANDARD or EBM GREEN.

Three years ago, EBM started to focus on its four strategic core activities – energy, grid, heat, and renewable energies – as well as taking measures to secure its financial strength. These steps are now having a visible effect. In a challenging environment, EBM has successfully progressed according to plan in all areas. In 2014, the EBM Group achieved sales of CHF 420 million, an increase of 5.4 percent compared with the previous year. The operating result (EBIT), which went up from CHF 13 million to over CHF 21 million, was no less encouraging. This is largely the result of EBM's strong performance in all its core activities. With the exception of the electricity business, which continues to suffer from persistently low electricity prices and hence from falling revenues, margins in all areas of business are positive.

Since 2009, EBM has voluntarily used the Swiss GAAP FER accounting standard, which ensures transparent reporting. By focusing on its strategic core business and on its restructuring, EBM is now concentrating more on its actual operating result, not least in its annual financial statements. It is for that reason that the strategic holding in Alpiq is now recognized in the accounts at acquisition cost and the relevant values and changes are no longer recognized proportionately in EBM's balance sheet and income statement.

EBM recorded a profit of CHF 30 million in 2014, about CHF 21 million more than in the previous year. Comparison with the previous year is possible only to a limited extent, however, given the one-off costs in 2013 for extraordinary contributions to the pension fund. With its 72 percent equity ratio and a gearing ratio of 1.6 net debt to net cash flow, EBM's finances are very sound. The EBM Group's FTE headcount (including trainees) fell from 557 in 2013 to 352 in 2014. This was largely attributable to the sale of Schwarz + Partner AG, which was no longer part of the strategic core business, and to the implementation of the restructuring.

EBM's total electricity business in Switzerland and France expanded by 30 percent compared with the previous year to around 3.3 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). This figure includes not only the supply of electricity to customers within the grid area and outside it but also trading in electricity to optimize procurement. In the year under review, 26 customers with an electricity consumption of CHF 39 million kWh left for other suppliers. In return, EBM managed to acquire 13 major customers with total electricity consumption of 253 million kWh outside its grid area. EBM's basic service customers received 1,160 million kWh of electricity, of which 533.4 million kWh was derived from renewable energy sources, as almost 90 percent of customers opt for the new EBM STANDARD and EBM GREEN electricity products.

IEBM invested CHF 29.2 million in developing, replacing and maintaining the electricity grid to ensure secure supplies to the 235,000 people in its grid area. Security of supply continued to be maintained to a high degree in the year under review. Customers receiving low-voltage electricity within the EBM grid area will not experience a power cut on average more than once every 5.6 years, and the power is usually restored by stand-by staff within 90 minutes. Linking up the numerous newly constructed local photovoltaic plants proved a big challenge for grid operations. As at the end of 2014, a total of 1,379 photovoltaic systems with an installed output of 35,244 kilowatt peak (kWp) were in operation within EBM's Swiss grid area.

EBM's heating group continues to enjoy dynamic growth. Initially some 30 years ago heat systems were established primarily within the EBM grid area. Nowadays the company has a variety of heat systems in practically all of Switzerland and in nearby Alsace. By the end of 2014, it operated a total of 216 heating installations. In view of the very mild weather in the first quarter of 2014 and of the associated 23 percent fall in heating degree days, the quantity of heat sold, at 268.3 million kWh, was markedly less than the previous year's figure of 310.2 million kWh.

EBM obtains electricity from its own hydroelectric facilities, wind farms, photovoltaic and biomass-fuelled generators, from partners' systems and by means of long-term contracts. The portfolio of electricity generating plants is currently being expanded and covers six countries in all – not only Switzerland but also Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Norway. Despite new plants, the supply of electricity from the company's own renewable sources declined at the end of 2014 by 7.9 percent to 748 million kWh. This decrease is attributable to the reduced supply of water, to unfavorable wind conditions and to the slight reduction to 44.2 percent in EBM's stake in Kleinkraftwerk Birseck AG. The output of the company's own renewable energy sources was, in purely mathematical terms, able to provide 40 percent of the electricity supplied to EBM's customers.

EBM Key Figures for the financial year 2014

EBM Group Key Figures

2014

2013

Sales in CHF million

419.6

398.1

EBIT in CHF million

21.0

13.3

Total assets in CHF million

1,482.5

1,526.7*

Equity as % of total capital

72.0

69.1*

Electricity business in million kWh

3,311.6

2,526.5

Heat production in million kWh

268.3

310.2

Number of electricity customers (supply sources)

132,447

131,114

Number of cooperative members

50,623

49,975

Employees (full-time)

352

557

Including number of trainees

14

47

* Adjusted following new consolidation of Alpiq holding at acquisition cost.

EBM Key Figures for 2014 by segment

(without Corporate and Services)

Sales

CHF million

EBIT

CHF million 

Electricity business

234

0

Grid

119

17

Heat

54

3

Renewable energies

33

7

Additional information:

  • Joachim Krebs, Head of Corporate Communication, Tel. +41 61 415 43 85, E-Mail j.krebs@ebm.ch

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