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NEWS
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10/01/2020

Hera Group approves Business Plan to 2023

Business_plan_870


 

Tomaso Tommasi di Vignano, Hera Executive Chairman

The goals set out in the Business plan we are presenting today are in line with our history: for 17 years, we have been growing uninterruptedly, creating value for the areas in which we operate and for all stakeholders, beginning with our shareholders. This value translates into concrete benefits, concerning for example the investments made in services and plants, which become assets of the area itself, and in the activities in which Hera involves citizens, institutions, workers, suppliers and members of the third sector, acting as an “enabler” for their own growth. Our Plan is able to rely on both a solid initial basis – with preliminary year-end results 3% higher than expected – and significant growth in 2020, sustained among other things by the transaction with Ascopiave, which will now begin to contribute to our results.

 

 

Stefano Venier, Hera CEO

Our Business plan’s orientations, just like the initiatives carried out by Hera in previous years, reflect our growing attention towards sustainable development, circular economy and decarbonisation. Within the Group, sustainability is built into our corporate strategies themselves: by 2023, 42% of Ebitda will involve “shared value”, that is, projects that respond to the goals contained in the Un Agenda. In this area, investments will come to over 950 million euro over the period covered by the Plan, of which 330 million to make our cities increasingly smart, thanks to innovation and technological evolution, or again projects promoting energy efficiency, recovery and reuse of materials, air quality and network resilience, in order to face climate change. What’s more, we are looking even farther into the future, with the objective of reducing the impact of our activities up to 2030, in all areas in which we operate.

 


Preliminary results for 2019 show Ebitda at 1,081 million; a new Plan to accompany development

Today, the Hera Group’s Board of Directors, chaired by Tomaso Tommasi di Vignano, approved the Business plan to 2023. The year-end projections confirm results exceeding expectations, due to both the highly positive results seen in the third quarter report at 30 September 2019, and the performances projected for the last quarter of the year. Ebitda is expected to reach roughly 1,081 million euro, up 4.85% compared to the 1,031.1 million seen in 2018, with the Net debt/Ebitda ratio settling at roughly 2.5, before including the financial impact of the Ascopiave transaction, which brings this indicator to roughly 3.05.

The scenario: options for growth, along with a range of opportunities

Even within a complex national economic scenario, marked by limited prospects for growth, Hera intends to continue along its path of development and maintain the resilience it has shown over time in this type of context. This will be achieved by relying on its noteworthy available asset portfolio, the skills of its employees, the diversified portfolio mix and the opportunities now emerging in its various business areas.
The growing attention shown by European institutions towards promoting sustainable growth, with interventions such as the recent “A European Green Deal” program, will give further value to the goals already pursued by the Group in recent years, in terms of sustainability, innovation and circularity in its business management models.
In regulated sectors, growth opportunities are linked to the reassignment of concessions through tenders and ongoing changes in Arera tariff regulation which, as of 2020, will be responsible for the waste management sector as well. In free market waste management activities, the persistent shortcomings in waste treatment plants on a national and European level sustains a positive trend in prices and demand, going to the advantage of operators provided with adequate infrastructures. As regards free market energy sales, over the period of time covered by the Plan, new yearly/two-year tenders for assigning last resort services are expected to be held and a process of liberalising protected electricity customers “maggior tutela” is expected to be gradually introduced.

Growth, risk management and circular economy: the three pillars of the new Business plan

In such context, Hera has defined its Plan to 2023 by elaborating marketing and industrial growth strategies based on an increasingly sustainable business model, making the most of the opportunities offered by new technologies and digital evolution.
The new strategic document aims at leveraging upon the competitive advantages of its multi-utility portfolio: a wide service portfolio marked by a significant amount of regulated services; solidity in assets and finance; an ability to fund significant investments; a corporate environment and experience geared towards efficiency and innovation; and the investments constantly made in training its roughly 9,000 employees.
In particular, the Group has set out its Plan to 2023 by following 3 strategic directives: industrial growth, risk management.
Attention towards sustainability remains a fundamental aspect of the Group’s strategy, reflecting the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda that concern the Group’s activities (covering 11 of the UN’s 17 SDGs): almost 3/4 of the growth expected over the period covered by the Plan will be sustained by projects that respond to this “call to action”.

Almost 2.9 billion euro in investments; solidity confirmed in assets and finance

The new Business plan foresees investments coming to roughly 2.9 billion euro, of which roughly 2 billion will go towards maintenance of currently owned plants and 900 million in plant expansion. In particular, investments for internal plant development are expected to rise, now coming to 540 million, 120 more (+30%) than in the previous plan.
The attention that Hera has shown over time to the solidity of its assets and its financial balance has allowed to include projects for expansion through M&As in its new strategic document, in addition to the ones already finalised over the previous year, including the partnership with Ascopiave. At the same time, space to manoeuvre remains, as does the flexibility required to grasp any additional opportunities for external growth in the upcoming years, not included in the current Plan.

Leader in the waste management area, thanks to sorted waste, solutions for waste transportation and outstanding projects for a circular economy

Increases are also expected for Ebitda in the waste management area, which will go from 252 million in 2018 to 307 in 2023, with 618 million in investments expected between 2019 and 2023.
In this sector, the Group aims at confirming its commercial and technological leadership in the integrated waste cycle, thanks to its avant-garde set of plants which are in line with European best practices, which will be further developed in the years to come with the goal of increasing resource protection and maximising reuse.
One example comes from biomethane production plants. The experience acquired from the Sant’Agata Bolognese (BO) plant – which transforms the organic portion of sorted waste into compost and biomethane which fuels buses, taxis and private vehicles – will lead new projects to be introduced in areas served by the Group, supporting the model of a circular economy. In particular, over the period covered by the Plan, the Voltana anaerobic digester, located in the area surrounding Ravenna, will also be partially reconverted to produce biomethane.
Within 2023 the Hera Group furthermore expects an additional rise in sorted waste in the areas served, up from the 62.5% seen in 2018 to 75% in 2023. The Group’s objective is to improve its quality as well, thanks to numerous campaigns designed to raise awareness and initiatives meant to get citizens involved.
The circular model, indeed, in addition to the appropriate type of plants, also requires coherent individual and collective behaviour. A larger and better amount of sorted waste leads to further circular business opportunities. One example can be seen in the partnership between Hera and Eni intended to produce biofuel from waste oil brought by citizens, which is expected to be extended to other areas served by the Group, outside Emilia-Romagna, where the pilot project took place.

 
 
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