Confident about the future

We hoped for better news, but it was no real surprise that in 2018, market conditions remained quite challenging. The political instability and increasing protectionism in international trade worldwide created a lack of confidence among consumers and investors alike and resulted in rather disappointing economic growth worldwide. Obviously, Jan De Nul Group also faced this reality, manifesting itself in a very weak investment climate. Overall, within this difficult economic context, we are pleased to report that we succeeded in producing satisfactory results for 2018.
For several years in a row, our international dredging activities have faced a tight market due to lack of both public and private investment. This has resulted in a turnover decrease, and increased pressure on project margins.  The Jan De Nul Group civil activities held their ground thanks to a strong real estate market, in combination with the traditional infrastructure market. In geographical terms, the civils business focused on increasing it’s presence in the Netherlands and Luxemburg, particularly for large infrastructure projects.
In 2018, the oil and gas market showed little recovery, which had a negative impact on our offshore operations. We also had to wait to the Spring of 2019 to notice signs of a slight improvement in some specific segments (fall pipe vessels).
The renewable energy business on the other hand is driven by a persistently strong market in Europe and also by a rapidly emerging market in Asia. Obviously, Jan De Nul Group continues to focus on further growth within the European offshore wind market, plus in 2018, we also won, as one of the first contractors, major projects for the construction of offshore wind farms in Taiwan and the United States.
The environmental activities, our smallest niche market served by our subsidiary company Envisan, showed a stable performance.

Our confidence in the future was also confirmed by the order of the Voltaire, a very large next generation jack-up installation vessel.

Overall these rather challenging market conditions resulted in a consolidated turnover of more than 1.7 billion euro with an EBITDA margin of 277 million euro or 16.22 % (of turnover) for Jan De Nul Group in 2018. This performance is in line with the sector average margin of 15.86%.
Jan De Nul Group continues to distinguish itself from its competitors by its extremely strong balance sheet, with capital and reserves of over 2.8 billion euro and a solvency ratio of no less than 73%. Furthermore, the group can boast a persistently strong liquidity position with a net cash surplus of 376 million euro.
Also in these difficult market conditions, Jan De Nul Group continues to invest in its future: at the end of 2018, our current investments in newly built vessels represent a total investment value of 400 million euro. In July 2018, we purchased the offshore jack-up installation vessel Taillevent, which immediately enabled us to offer increased capacity to offshore wind customers.  Our confidence in the future of the offshore wind market was also confirmed by the order, earlier this year, of the Voltaire, a very large next-generation jack-up installation vessel.  This new installation vessel, due for delivery in early 2022, will be able to install the next generation of wind turbines with blades, that reach up to 270 metre above sea level. It goes without saying, that all these recent vessel investments will be fitted out as Ultra Low Emission vessels (ULEv).

The vision, activities, and results of Jan De Nul Group, are driven by a group of over 6400 highly committed employees. Every single one of them contributes to the success of the group. We have also continuously invested, for many years, in high-quality training and individual support programmes.  In addition, our proactive integrated management system ensures that risk, quality, safety and environment all receive the focus required to deliver successful projects. Operational control and a strong focus on the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved, helps to guarantee success.
The 2018 outcome makes us confident about the future. We can continue to make a difference, also in more challenging and, as we may expect, quite volatile market conditions as clearly shown by our increasing order backlog of 3.3 billion euro, an increase of 27% compared to the end of 2017.

The Board of Directors

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