A confident outlook

2017 has been another challenging year where lower oil prices kept the oil & gas sector subdued and even the dredging market showed a contraction. The market turnaround that we had all hoped for still proves elusive.    With smaller capital expenditures in these core markets, and declining project scope has directly resulted in lower margins and higher costs given the increased management costs of a multitude of smaller projects.

With increasing pressure and awareness of climate change and the need for an energy transition, a brighter picture is emerging in our business activities within the Offshore Renewables market, where we continue to see growth and business is no longer restricted to Europe. The JDN Group continues to focus and make progress, in a targeted manner, on the civil engineering and environmental market, both with ‘autonomous’ projects and through an integrated approach together with our other business divisions.

"In a changing global economy, we show sufficient strength and resilience to adapt and thrive."

As a result, the overall figures for 2017 show a mixed picture. On one hand, a tight and competitive market leading to a decrease in annual turnover, but on the other hand, our financial performances remain strong, and even stronger than in 2016, including:

  • an unprecedented solvency ratio: 75% of our balance sheet is carried by our own assets;
  • a net liquidity position of 345 million euro;
  • an EBITDA-ratio on our turnover of over 20%, a leading figure in our markets.

This financial performance confirms that in a changing global economy, with a weak recovery; simultaneously threatened by a dominant tendency towards protectionism between the superpowers, the JDN Group shows sufficient strength, flexibility and resilience to adapt and thrive.

During its past exponential growth phase, Jan De Nul Group has always succeeded in capitalising on its core competences.  Now our business model shows resilience in a downturn, thanks largely to our flexibility and product mix, as well as our technical capabilities, supported by targeted investments, training and a permanent search for talent.  During 2017, we had two new additions to our fleet and we currently have vessels under construction for an overall value of over 380 million euro.

More than ever, the projects described in this annual report demonstrate the cross-pollination and co-operation between our various business divisions:

  • multi-disciplinary projects in Monaco and Oskarshamn
  • comprehensive turnkey EPC-contracts and PPP-projects with the A11 and Nobelwind

While across the group, the focus on keeping safety our top priority and improving safety performance and the wellbeing of our employees, often using state-of-the-art equipment,  continues unchanged.   

It remains unclear what 2018 and the short-term future will bring. Still, as a global player we will continue to work from a long-term perspective, both in talent development and in the modernisation of our fleet across our many different activities. Our market confidence is supported by our order book, which at the end of 2017 – in spite of a declining market – remained stable at 2.6 billion euro, with contracts under consideration for the first quarter of 2018 looking very promising and confirming a rising trend.

This strong financial performance has, without doubt, been made possible by the confidence of our clients and stakeholders, whom for many decades and across the different economic cycles have always enabled the company to re-invest every penny earned and, as such, continue to serve customers and develop this silent JDN-resilience in the best possible way.

 

The Board of Directors

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