Another excellent year
Chairman Dr Rainer Schaub welcomed the 507 shareholders to the AGM in Olten's Town Hall. In his address he praised Atel as a forward-looking company with strong traditional values, active throughout Europe yet with close ties to the region. Dr Rainer Schaub: "Atel owes its success to far-sighted decisions made by management past and present, to the commitment of its employees, shareholders and customers, and the support provided by the canton of Solothurn. Equally, however, the company owes its success to the economic environment in which it operates. We have always felt a deep obligation to this environment."
Capital reduction instead of dividend
Shareholders voted in favour of the proposed capital reduction of CHF 218 million in the form of a reduction in par value from CHF 20 to CHF 10 per share. Shareholders will therefore benefit from double the pay-out made in 2006.
Restructuring of Atel and Motor-Columbus to form Atel Holding Ltd
In November 2007 Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity (Atel) and Atel Holding Ltd (formerly Motor-Columbus Ltd, MC) took the next steps towards restructuring both companies. MC submitted a voluntary swap offer to its shareholders in order to simplify the shareholder structure and create a single holding company. At the same time, MC was restructured to create Atel Holding Ltd (Atel Group) with head office in Olten. Since completion of the swap offer in January 2008, Atel Holding Ltd holds 99.82 percent of all shares in Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity, and looks set to increase this stake to 100 percent by the end of the first half of 2008.
This restructuring provides the basis for the planned merger with EOS and possibly the Swiss operations of the EDF Group to create the leading Swiss energy provider geared towards Europe. The relevant activities are currently undergoing an evaluation process, the results of which will determine the terms of the merger. The aim is to achieve the shareholder structure defined in the consortium agreement, with 30 percent each held by the consortium of Swiss minority shareholders and EOS, at least 25 percent by the EDF Group and 15 percent publicly held, including the share in Italian company A2A. As things stand at present, the merged company should be able to start operations in early 2009.
Energy policy: Atel supports the Federal Council
In his address Dr Rainer Schaub outlined the ambitious EU climate targets which Switzerland has more or less adopted. Dr Schaub believes these targets are extremely challenging for Switzerland, since electricity generation in Switzerland is already largely CO2-free. "The targets can only be achieved if we succeed in implementing the Federal Council's energy policy, which adopts a four-pillar approach based on energy efficiency, renewable energies, foreign policy on energy and large-scale power stations. Atel stands by these four pillars and intends to make a valuable contribution to each of them," said Schaub.
Atel – record results in dynamic market
Atel CEO Giovanni Leonardi was delighted with the current financial results. At CHF 13.5 billion, revenue was 18.7 percent higher than the previous year, with operating income (EBIT) at CHF 1,005 million and reported Group profit of CHF 778 million. Excluding the one-off special effects which impacted the 2006 results, EBIT was 31.5 percent higher and Group profit was up by 28.8 percent.
Outlook for 2008
Atel has set itself the goal of further expanding trading and sales activities across all markets in 2008. In line with this the company anticipates further growth in sales volumes, primarily in Trading, Germany, France and Eastern Europe. In addition, the sales company in Romania which was acquired at the end of 2007 will positively impact the Group's development. On the other hand, Atel expects competition to intensify further in hitherto regulated countries, with a sideways shift in market prices driving a downward trend in margins. The company also expects to see a further increase in transit costs in many parts of Europe, as a result of legal constraints, grid congestion and border capacity auctions.
Energy Services segment
For the current financial year the Atel Installationstechnik Group (AIT) anticipates a slight levelling off of investment volume in Switzerland. However, there is still potential for growth in the transport technology business in Western and Eastern Europe, and in Northern Italy for building services.
The GAH Group, primarily active in Germany, is exceptionally well-positioned for the 2008 financial year. In view of the fact that Germany's economy is expected to continue to grow, market conditions remain good for the GAH Group, largely due to the sustained need for major investments in grids and production plants, and in particular new conventional power plants and renewable energy facilities.
The Atel Group expects to end 2008 with a further rise in sales and revenue volumes. Barring any extraordinary events, the Group expects operating results on a par with 2007. At present, however, on the basis of first-quarter operating business performance, Atel believes that the results recorded in the previous year will be extremely difficult to repeat.
Atel Holding AG Corporate Communications
Speeches and webcast
Note: The speeches given by Chairman Dr Rainer Schaub and CEO Giovanni Leonardi are available on the Atel website at www.atel.eu. Both speeches are also available in streaming video.