Naturgy Closes FY21 Having Fulfilled its Forecasts in Volatile Energy Scenario

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 2/4/2022, Location: Europe

- The year was characterised by a gradual recovery in demand following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and, perhaps more significantly, a major increase in the price of commodities, especially in the second half of the year.
- The company fulfilled all its forecasts. Revenue stood at 22,140 million euros and the ordinary margin stood at 5,579 million euros, while ordinary EBITDA stood at 3,983 million euros (up 7% on 2020) and ordinary net income at 1,231 million euros.
- In industrial terms, the year was characterised by a significant increase in investments (up 16%) to 1,484 million euros, which was mainly driven by investments in gas and electricity networks and new renewable power plants (installed capacity exceeded 5.2 GW at year-end), as well as the implementation of improvements in commercial activity, especially digitalisation. Furthermore, the company stepped away from the electricity distribution business in Chile and reached an agreement with ENI to definitively leave Egypt (UFG).

- In financial terms, net debt stood at 12,831 million euros (down 6% on the previous year) after a free cash flow of 2,113 million euros (up 30% on 2020) was generated. Available liquidity surpassed 9,400 million euros at year-end. - As it did during the toughest moments of the pandemic, Naturgy strengthened its commitment to society and its stakeholders in 2021. The various actions undertaken by the company included its Commitment Initiative, a condition-free offer to sell electricity at the fixed price of €65/MWh for three years to all its customers. At present, more than 150,000 customers have opted in to this initiative.
- At its next Shareholders' General Meeting, the company will propose a supplementary dividend of €0.5/share. Together with the two interim dividends already paid out, this will amount to a total of €1.2/share for the 2021 financial year, thereby complying with the dividends policy established in its 2021-2025 Strategic Plan.

Naturgy closed the 2021 financial year with an EBITDA of 3,983 million euros, up 7.2% on the previous year. The company has fulfilled its EBITDA forecasts within a volatile energy scenario characterised by a gradual recovery in demand and a significant increase in the price of commodities, both electricity and gas, especially in the second half of the year.

The company Chairman, Francisco Reynés, explained that “the company remains focused on its goal to create value and engage in integrated risk management, two key factors in dealing with ongoing volatility in energy markets and its impact on the group's various activities”.

The company posted an ordinary net income of 1,231 million euros. The restructuring costs stemming from the Voluntary Redundancies Plan for employees in Spain and the penalty resulting from the termination of certain gas contracts in the final quarter of the year were offset by the gains obtained from the sale of CGE Chile and the agreement reached with Unión Fenosa Gas (UFG), among other factors.

In turn, energy management in international markets offset the results from commercial activity in Spain, which was impacted by the temporary effects of the situation in the markets and rising energy prices.

Regulated businesses remained stable thanks to the ongoing recovery in demand over the course of the year following the pandemic and the operational improvements made. A certain level of weakness persists in some regions of Latin America, especially impacted by the exchange rate.

The company continued to strengthen its financial position, as well as its solvency and liquidity. As at 31 December, the company's net debt stood at 12, 831 million euros, down 6% on year-end 2020. Rating agencies have confirmed a BBB rating with a stable outlook for the company. Furthermore, the average cost of this net debt remained stable at 2.5% and, at year-end, the group's total liquidity amounted to 9,424 million euros.

In November, Naturgy concluded an issue of perpetual subordinated securities worth 500 million euros, redeemable at will by the issuer from February 2027 and with an annual yield of 2.375%. As part of this operation, the company bought back the perpetual subordinated securities redeemable from November 2022 for the sum of 500 million euros.

Commitment to customers
Naturgy decided to take action in response to the atypical energy price situation in 2021 and support society by offering a comprehensive plan to alleviate the impact of the current electricity price crisis on consumers and the real economy. The company launched its Commitment Initiative in September, a new solution for electricity prices at levels comparable to those prior to the increase seen in the wholesale market.

In September, and aimed at domestic clients, the company promised to guarantee a condition-free fixed electricity price of €60/MWh for two years. Subsequently, in November Naturgy expanded this offer to all customers (residential, SMEs and industrial), with an electricity price of €65/MWh and for three years. At present, over 150,000 customers have taken out this tariff.

Francisco Reynés explained that this extraordinary measure was adopted “in response to the exceptional situation we are seeing in terms of energy prices. The current situation requires commitment and leadership, and this package of measures is a demonstration of our commitment to society because we need to think beyond the current temporary situation and remain focused on customers long-term”.

Growth in renewables
The company's total investments rose to 1,484 million euros in 2021. Almost 65% of this amount — 952 million (up 30%) — was spent on growth and, most importantly, the development of gas and electricity networks, while also increasing the renewable installed capacity in Australia, Spain and the United States. Hence, the company continues with its strategy to develop an international renewable portfolio with a focus on stable geographic regions and projects in the initial stages of development. Renewable installed capacity at year-end stood at 5,221 MW.

Investments for the construction of new renewable capacity amounted to 579 million euros and were made in Spain (213 million euros), Australia (328 million euros) and Latin America (38 million euros). All other growth investments were spent on networks (249 million euros) and the implementation of improvements in commercial activity stemming from digitalisation (113 million euros).

Growth-focused management
Besides growth-focused management, the company continued to simplify its businesses in 2021 and reduce its commercial positioning risk in order to maximise long-term value creation.

Along these lines, the company reached a mutually satisfactory agreement with ENI and the Arab Republic of Egypt in March 2021 to amicably resolve the UFG situation, a company in which the companies Naturgy and ENI hold 50% stakes. Naturgy received a payment in cash of 600 million dollars, as well as most of the assets outside of Egypt, excluding UFG’s commercial activities in Spain.

Last year, Naturgy also completed the sale of its 96.05% stake in Compañía General de Electricidad de Chile (CGE) to the Chinese state company State Grid International Development Limited (SGI) for the sum (equity value) of 2,570 million euros.

These two operations confirmed Naturgy’s capacity to rotate its profile and create value for shareholders.

ESG commitments (environmental, social and governance)
In environmental terms, the company maintained its policy to increase installed capacity and emissions-free production by 13.8% and 9.3%, respectively. It also significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), 12.9% less than in 2020, as a result of the new renewable installed capacity and the closure of coal-fired power stations.

Furthermore, and stemming from business growth in several markets, the company increased its economic value distributed for the benefit of societies and suppliers in the territories where it operates by 38.6%.

As regards the COVID-19 pandemic, the company continued to implement measures aimed at safeguarding the health of its employees and guaranteeing the ability to work from home, and also offered personal protection measures and the company’s medical services to its employees.

Commitment to shareholders
At its next Shareholders' General Meeting, the company will propose a supplementary dividend of €0.5/share. Together with the two interim dividends already paid out, this will amount to a total of €1.2/share for the 2021 financial year, in line with its dividends policy established in the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. This latest payment will be made in the first quarter of 2022.


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