The Verbund Group’s business development in quarters 1-3/2009 is primarily attributed to the spot market prices for electricity that sank by 40%, distinct declines in sales volume in the industry as well as negative one-off effects in the amount of EUR 74 million in the operating result. On the other hand, the good water supply from Austria’s rivers and streams that were 5% higher than the levels in the previous year and the advance trading of 60% of Verbund’s electricity sales in the previous year at significantly higher prices had a positive impact on the result.
With regard to the current financial year 2009, on the basis of a relatively stable operative business development, the company expects a slight decline in its results compared to 2008. Verbund CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber: “We intend to adhere to our dividend policy and are seeking to achieve a payout ratio of at least 45%.”
The global economic crisis and its effects on almost all industries will also leave its mark on the Verbund Group. Since there are currently no indications of a sustained economic recovery, the company will steadily adapt its strategy to the changing conditions. Anzengruber: "We will focus our business model to an even greater extent on our core markets and continue to reduce risks."
Verbund also intends to adhere to its anti-cyclical investment activities so that it can profit to an even greater extent from a future economic upturn. The company is concentrating on the expansion of renewable energy sources, particularly hydropower, and on the modernization of the Austrian electricity grid. The investments in Verbund’s foreign core markets Turkey, France and Italy will also be continued – even if there may be some deviations from the schedule.
The Verbund Group was able to reinforce its positions both in the European and Austrian electricity market. With the recently completed takeover of 13 hydropower plants on the Bavarian Inn, the company has risen to become Europe’s fourth-largest electricity producer from hydropower; its ambitious aim for the coming year is to become Number 3 in the sector.
As a result of increasing its stake in the largest independent energy supplier POWEO to around 46%, Verbund is now the largest shareholder in listed POWEO S.A. in France. Recently, POWEO’s first gas turbine power plant, Pont-sur-Sambre, was commissioned.
Verbund also strengthened its position as the leading electricity company in Austria: After finalizing a four-year power supply contract with domestic energy suppliers in mid-2009, Verbund recently also renewed its power supply contract with Oesterreichische Bundesbahnen for another four years.
In the Austrian end-customer market, the sales volume climbed by 5.7%; abroad the sold volumes increased by 17.7%. In Austria, Verbund now has more than 200,000 end-customers and is one of the most reasonable suppliers in the segment.