Tauron Group posted sales revenue of PLN 17.6bn in 2016, i.e. close to the figure achieved in 2015. Higher revenue was reported by the Mining segment, primarily due to the 2016 acquisition of Brzeszcze Coal Mine and the higher hard coal sales volume.
Declines were posted by the following segments: Generation (by 19.0 percent) and Supply (by 11.7 percent), which was mainly the consequence of the lower electricity sales volumes and prices.
Tauron Group is operating on the demanding, ever less stable market, where only companies that are the industry trendsetters can be successful. Our aspiration is to be a company that creates solutions and not only adapts itself to the changes in the environment. Tauron Group's 2016 financial results confirm our strong position on the power market and constitute a good foundation for further growth. In accordance with our strategy we are developing the Group's organizational culture to be customer centric and focused on the customer's expectations – says Filip Grzegorczyk, CEO of TAURON Polska Energia.
- We ended the past year with a good fourth quarter. Full year 2016 EBITDA is slightly lower than a year ago, primarily due to the challenging market conditions in the mining segment and in the conventional power generation. The operating and net profits were, similar as in 2015, impacted by the write-downs to the carrying amount of the Generation segment's unprofitable generation units on the balance sheet. It is clear that the regulatory and market factors are, to an ever greater degree, impacting the earnings posted by power utilities – says Marek Wadowski, CFO of Tauron Polska Energia.
Commercial coal production in 2016 was 30 percent higher than in 2015, reaching 6.37m tons. Excluding Brzeszcze Coal Mine's output the growth rate would have reached 6 percent. Hard coal sales volume was 6.1m tons, with 4.7m tons (approx. 77 percent) sold to the Generation segment's subsidiaries. The steadily rising production output of Brzeszcze Coal Mine (ZG Brzeszcze), operating as part of TAURON Group since January 2016, had the biggest impact on the high coal extraction volume.
Intense CAPEX program, carried out at that coal mine in 2016, should translate into achieving the ultimate full year coal extraction volume of approx. 1.8m tons in 2017 and lead to generating positive financial results. The effectiveness of actions taken at that coal mine is confirmed by the numbers - in Q4 of last year Brzeszcze Coal Mine extracted as much as 438 thousand tons of hard coal and posted EBITDA of PLN 6m.
Electricity production reached approx. 16.8 TWh in 2016, including 1.3 TWh from renewable energy sources. The lower electricity production and sales by the Generation line of business were the direct consequences of the commercial strategy adopted by TAURON Group, with the decline of electricity generation from renewable energy sources being due to the lower production from biomass (the result of lowering the correction coefficient for the biomass co-firing from 1.0 to 0.5 and the dramatic drop of the green certificates' prices).
TAURON Group's Distribution line of business posted a volume increase, delivering almost 50 TWh of electricity to customers, i.e. 1 percent more than a year ago. It was the consequence of good economic conditions and the higher domestic electricity consumption. The Distribution segment connected to its distribution grid more than 50 thousand new customers in 2016.
On the other hand the Supply segment reported an approx. 11 percent decline of the electricity supply volume which was due to the lack of electricity sales to the TSO (PSE) (approx. 1.7 TWh in 2015) and the ever rising competition on the electricity supply market.
The Group's 2016 EBITDA reached PLN 3.3bn, i.e. it was 5.3 percent lower than in 2015. Invariably, the largest contribution to EBITDA was made by Distribution (71.8 percent), followed by Generation (16.3 percent) and Supply that generated approx. 14.7 percent of the Group's total EBITDA.
Net profit and impairment charges related to the generation assets
The Group's 2016 net profit reached PLN 370m, while in 2015 – as a result of high impairment charges – the Group posted a PLN 1.8bn net loss.
The impairment tests related to the assets' carrying amount on the balance sheet, conducted in 2016, the results of which led to the booking of the write-downs of the conventional and renewable generation assets' carrying value on the balance sheet for the total net amount of PLN 735m, had a negative impact on the net profit.
The write-downs are the result of taking changes to the market environment into account in the tests, including, among others: unfavorable regulations in the renewable energy sources segment, several-fold drop of the green certificates' prices and continued adverse – from the point of view of the hard coal-fired power generation's profitability – market conditions.
TAURON Group's 2016-2025 strategy
In September 2016 the Management Board of TAURON Polska Energia S.A. presented TAURON Group's new 2016-2025 strategy. The strategy's priorities include: ensuring the Group's financial stability, investment projects aligned to the market needs and the Group's financial standing as well as developing innovations and building customer relationships. Sales and development of new products and services will constitute a strong base for the Group's growth.
As part of rationalizing the expenditures the planned CAPEX was reduced from approx. PLN 20.2bn to approx. PLN 18bn. Assumed directions of investments beyond 2020 include, apart from the regulated segments of the power sector, also the new power industry. TAURON will be investing in developing e-mobility, distributed heat and electricity generation, energy prosumers, smart home, smart city solutions and energy related services. With respect to innovative as well as research and development activities the strategy assumes expenditures equal to 0.4% of the consolidated revenue a year.
A very important element of the new strategy is the efficiency improvement program, adopted in March, 2016, that assumes achieving savings in the region of PLN 1.3bn in 2016-2018, as well as strategic initiatives that will bring additional financial effects of PLN 1.9bn in 2017-2020.
Strategy assumes that as a result of the above actions TAURON Group's EBITDA will rise to more than PLN 4bn in 2020 and it will reach PLN 5bn in 2025.
Efficiency Improvement Program
Efficiency Improvement Program generated PLN 478m in total savings in 2016, with a positive impact on EBITDA worth PLN 263m, and PLN 215m coming from the CAPEX reduction. Savings achieved last year represent 37 percent of the total savings planned for 2016-2018. The largest contribution to the savings achieved came from the Distribution segment. The biggest savings (i.e. PLN 272m) were generated as a result of improving the assets' utilization efficiency.
TAURON Group's CAPEX reached PLN 3.8bn in 2016. The Distribution segment's CAPEX (PLN 1.8bn) was primarily spent on upgrading the distribution grid and connecting new customers to the grid. In the Generation segment the majority of the CAPEX was spent on the construction of the 910 MW hard coal-fired generation unit at Jaworzno III Power Plant (PLN 1.24bn). Planned total CAPEX related to the construction of this unit amounts to approx. PLN 6.2bn and the unit will be commissioned in November 2019.
– With TAURON Group's long term growth and security of electricity supply in mind we are systematically investing in new generation capacity and in improving the quality of the distribution infrastructure. Our largest project, the construction of the 910 MW generation unit at Jaworzno III Power Plant is already 32 percent completed – comments Filip Grzegorczyk, the company's CEO.
Debt and financing
2016 was also a period of intense activity with respect to financing the Group's operations. An agreement was signed with a group of bondholders in March under which the permitted value of the net debt to EBITDA ratio was raised from 3.0x to 3.5x. The change of the threshold value of this covenant gives the company more comfort with respect to leverage and financing.
Hybrid bonds (subordinated) worth EUR190m were issued in Q4 2016, underwritten by the European Investment Bank under the so-called Juncker plan. That was the first issue of such type in Europe and the first issue of hybrid bonds in Poland. It is noteworthy that the debt issued under this program is not taken into account when calculating the net debt to EBITDA ratio.
The above actions were appreciated by Fitch rating agency that reaffirmed TAURON Polska Energia SA's BBB rating and raised its outlook from negative to stable.
- Currently the Group's top priority is ensure its financial stability understood as maintaining a healthy balance sheet and generating cash flows that would allow for implementing its CAPEX program. We are in constant dialogue with financial institutions - we are focusing on extending the debt maturity and applying new financial instruments that would be beneficial for the Group. An example can be the hybrid bonds issue thanks to which the net debt to EBITDA ratio fell to 2.3x as of the end of 2016, whereas as recently as the end of September it was more than 2.6x – says Marek Wadowski, the company's CFO.
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