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NEWS
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13/01/2021

Hera Group approves Business Plan to 2024

businessplan_870


 
tommasi

Tomaso Tommasi di Vignano, Hera Executive Chairman

The reference scenario for the upcoming five years shows challenges and opportunities, which Hera has proven able to grasp in advance, by basing its strategy and its own approach to sustainability on them, well in advance. Today, with the new Business Plan, we can capitalise on the efforts made until present and increase our targets for growth to 2024. To support our goals, we have drawn up a significant investment plan which will expand our assets, at the same time making them increasingly sustainable, in line with the indications coming from international institutions. We have furthermore confirmed all of our operating-financial policies, most importantly maintaining a conservative asset profile, allowing us to finance potential investments not included in the Plan. 

 
venier

Stefano Venier, Hera CEO

Hera has always managed its activities through a sustainable approach, integrated into its business strategies. Therefore, with our new Business Plan we can promote further development, with projects dedicated to circularity, carbon neutrality and technological innovation, fully respecting the guidelines introduced by the Authority and benefiting from our past actions, in areas including premiums for service quality. We furthermore wish to report to our stakeholders, with the utmost transparency, on the Group’s commitment towards sustainability, already applying the TCFD’s recommendations to the 2020 financial year. Our future path is very clear and presents no few challenges, so much so that we have already given ourselves targets for 2030, aiming to achieve increasingly ambitious goals in sustainability.

 

A new Plan for development and growth

Today, the Hera Group’s Board of Directors, chaired by Tomaso Tommasi di Vignano, approved the Business Plan to 2024. This new five-year strategic document reflects Hera’s renewed commitment towards development and growth, with expectations increased compared to the previous Plan, and actions planned in areas including energy transition and environmental protection, technological evolution and social cohesion.
The Group’s strategies for industrial and commercial reinforcement have been set out according to sustainable business models, channelling opportunities coming from innovation and digital technology, and promoting the creation of shared value for all stakeholders. Hera furthermore intends to support local communities in a recovery compliant to European strategies and the goals on the UN’s 2030 Agenda.
Supported by the positive preliminary results for 2020, Hera will thus proceed along the path of uninterrupted growth it has followed since its establishment in 2002, with the aim of consolidating its leadership in all main business areas. All of this thanks to the strength of a model that over the years has proven to be winning and resilient and offers, still today, a concrete guarantee of additional future development

A solid foundation in the preliminary results for 2020

The Business Plan to 2024 is based on the solid fundamentals seen in the year-end projections for 2020: the preliminary results, indeed, confirm growth in the main indicators over the previous year. Ebitda is expected to have reached 1,118 million euro in 2020, increasing compared to the 1,085 million seen in 2019, while the Net debt/Ebitda ratio shows considerable improvement, settling at 2.9x, as against 3.02x at 31 December 2019. Last year, furthermore, Hera made investments coming to roughly 540 million euro, essentially unchanged with respect to 2019. In 2020, Hera thus overcame the difficulties caused by the pandemic and guaranteed continuity, efficiency and quality in the services provided, as well as offering concrete support to all stakeholders, first and foremost customers, suppliers and employees.

The framework of the new Plan: resilience, green transition and digital technology, for recovery

To respond to the complex scenario seen in 2020 and limit the impact of the crisis, the European Union has projected a series of extraordinary measures – including the “Next Generation EU” program – with funding going in particular to the green transition and digital technology. Alongside these measures, mention must go to the opportunities found in our country’s particular situation, which shows room for consolidation in markets that remain overly fragmentary, tenders for service concession renewal, and a further liberalisation of electricity sales with the end of the protected customer system.

Three focal points of the Business Plan to 2024: the environment, socio-economic factors and innovation

The Hera Group has enhanced its strategy, following European directives while at the same time maintaining its coherence towards the 2030 Agenda, which for years has guided the Group’s commitment towards sustainable development.
More specifically, the new Plan revolves around three strategic focal points – the environment, socio-economic factors and innovation – according to which all of Hera’s projects will take shape. The environmental focal points include promoting a circular economy by recovering, reusing and regenerating resources, interventions aimed at increasing infrastructural resilience so as to prevent and mitigate risks. More generally, this area also includes all actions aimed at countering climate change – an area in which Hera has been a leading figure for some time – in order to reach carbon neutrality, promoting bioenergies/green gas – such as biomethane, hydrogen and green syngas – and energy efficiency. Contributing to decarbonisation and saving resources will also come about through a drop in consumption within the Group itself: by 2024, energy consumption is expected to fall by 7% (compared to 2013) and internal water consumption by 17% (compared to 2017). The socio-economic factors, instead, involve creating “shared value” for stakeholders and the areas served, making the most of the Group’s physical and commercial assets, with new services having added value for customers, collaborations with external partners and projects for listening to local and social needs, as well as finalising integration transactions or tenders for regulated service assignments. Innovation, lastly, covers the opportunities linked to technological evolution, digitalisation, artificial intelligence and data analysis, to increase efficiency and service quality, with increasingly agile employment solutions, while maintaining the correct balance between people and technology.

Investments coming to approximately 3.2 billion euro, up thanks to the Group’s financial solidity

The Plan to 2024 calls for increased investments, coming to roughly 3.2 billion euro, 640 million per year on average: these figures are significantly higher (by approximately +40%) than the average seen over the last five years. In particular, an increase is expected in internal development, coming to 2.9 billion, 400 million more than in the previous Plan, with a financial commitment proportionate to Hera’s presence in the areas served and the features of the various business areas. 280 million will go to M&A operations and tenders for regulated services, with a slight drop compared to the previous Plan due to delays in a few gas tenders, partially offset by higher amount dedicated to external investments.
More generally, 60% of these investments will be dedicated to projects respecting European objectives. 42% will go towards activities in line with the “Green Deal”, for reducing emissions, carbon neutrality, business resilience and circular economy. The remaining 18% will be channelled into technological evolution: from increased cybersecurity to remote control, and from “smarty” bins for sorted waste to new meters.
This increase in investments was made possible not only by the positive results reached in 2020, but also by Hera’s financial solidity, which leaves room to manoeuvre with additional unforeseen investments. During the period covered by the Plan, in fact, a reduction is expected in the net debt/Ebitda ratio, reaching 2.8x by 2024.

 
 
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2018 Economic results
 
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