José Manuel Entrecanales, Chairman and CEO of ACCIONA, today called on the international investment community to show "social and environmental responsibility" in order to speed the decarbonisation of economies.
In his speech at the Annual General Meeting, Mr Entrecanales acknowledged that "rapid progress is being made in the introduction of elements that select and discriminate in favour" companies like ACCIONA, which work to develop sustainable economies around the world.
"However, even leading the main sustainability indices (...) does not guarantee the recognition of most of the financial sector or the global investment establishment," ACCIONA's Chairman and CEO said. "As long as shareholders and financiers fail to make social and environmental responsibility key variables in their investment decisions, progress [in decarbonization] will be slow.”
Mr Entrecanales highlighted ACCIONA's main business results in 2017: EBITDA of €1,275 million (+7%), sales of €7,254 million (+21%), ordinary profit before tax of €382 million (+22%) and more than 37,000 employees (+14%) worldwide.
"These results, slightly above the company’s forecasts, allow us to propose a dividend of €3 per share, 4.3% higher than last year and consistent with our objective of maintaining balanced dividend growth," Mr Entrecanales said.
Regarding the outlook for 2018, the Chairman expects moderate growth in EBITDA on a comparable basis following the sale of assets. The Net Debt/EBITDA ratio will continue to fall with a view to keeping the ratio below four. This objective will be achieved by growing operating profit, given that the sale of Trasmediterránea and of the solar thermal plants in Spain “concludes the divestment phase with the aim of reducing debt,” the Chairman said.
Mr Entrecanales called on the Spanish government to invest more in infrastructure, and to promote the renewable energy sector “with enthusiasm” now that Spain’s economic crisis was over and the country was "much more competitive”.
The Chairman and CEO of ACCIONA expressed his optimism about Mexico, "where this year we will exceed 1,000 MW of installed wind and photovoltaic capacity and where we are developing construction projects for hospitals, roads, power plants, transmission networks and real estate development". Among ACCIONA’s many projects in Mexico, the Group is part of a consortium that is building the New International Airport in Mexico City.
Chile “continues to be our main market in South America with a strong portfolio of renewable energy and infrastructure projects," Mr Entrecanales noted. The Company has major projects under construction and has also invested in its airport baggage handling business in Chile. The Company’s energy division, meanwhile, has successfully signed a number of bilateral renewable energy contracts (PPAs) with entities such as Google, Empresa Nacional de Minería de Chile (ENAMI) and Falabella, the largest retailer in Chile.
In Australia, Mr Entrecanales highlighted the strategic importance of last year's acquisition of Geotech, a mid-sized engineering and construction group, which has strengthened ACCIONA's position in the domestic infrastructure market. He added that "the renewed strength of the renewable electricity market following the imminent dismantling of most of the old coal-fired power plants augurs well for a promising future in energy too".
In the United States, he said ACCIONA had "solid prospects" in its main business activities, with state governments, city councils, large companies and a large majority of public opinion in favour of renewable energy, despite the scepticism of the current Administration.
About Canada, Mr Entrecanales highlighted the recently awarded projects for two water treatment plants and the €1.2 billion Site C dam that is currently under construction.
Turning to the Middle East, ACCIONA's Chairman and CEO said: "It is one of the regions in which we have grown the most in recent years in Infrastructure and Energy, with desalination plants, the largest photovoltaic plant in the world, wind power plants, urban services and large urban transport infrastructures".
Mr Entrecanales said ACCIONA's immediate objectives were to consolidate its presence in its key countries and their hinterland, and to increase ACCIONA’s presence in Africa, with the prospect of new business in Namibia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Tanzania.
The Shareholders' Meeting approved the balance sheet and accounts for 2017, as well as the distribution of a gross dividend of 3 euros per share (+4.3%) and the proposed redemption of up to 5% of the company's capital as an additional formula for shareholder remuneration. The dividend will be paid to shareholders on 2 July.
The assembly appointed Javier Sendagorta and José María Pacheco as new independent directors, replacing Jaime Castellanos and Fernando Rodés.