- Net profit meets most recently published forecast for an amount "in the upper double-digit million range"
- Earnings per share fall as expected by 43.4 percent to EUR 1.67 (20191: EUR 2.95)
- Equity ratio remains stable at 16.3 percent (20191: 16.2 percent)
- All franchise companies consolidated
- Forecast for 2021: Pick-up anticipated in the second half of 2021; leasing new business for the full-year expected between EUR 1.7 billion and EUR 2.0 billion and net profit in the range of EUR 50 to 70 million
Baden-Baden, April 30, 2021: GRENKE AG, a global financing partner for small and medium-sized enterprises, generated a net profit of EUR 79.9 million in financial year 2020 (20191: EUR 135.9 million) according to preliminary figures. The results meet the Company’s forecast of a net profit "in the upper double-digit-million range" last published on February 26, 2021. Earnings per share correspond to EUR 1.67 (20191: EUR 2.95). The 2020 Annual Report, including the audit opinion, is scheduled to be published on May 21, 2021.
"2020 was a tremendous challenge for GRENKE," commented Antje Leminsky, Chair of the Board of Directors of GRENKE AG. "We mastered it with unity and persistence and are now again looking ahead. In the second half of the year, we want to return to a growth mode."
Sebastian Hirsch, Chief Financial Officer of GRENKE AG, adds: "Intelligent liquidity management is of existential importance during such an unprecedented crisis. At the onset of the corona pandemic, we very deliberately built ourselves a liquidity buffer. Only as a result of this were we able to gain the necessary operating leeway to strategically manage our business in such an extraordinary period and close this exceptional year with decent results."
Higher proceeds from lease contracts
Payments by lessees rose by 11.5 percent to EUR 2.3 billion in the 2020 financial year (20191: EUR 2.1 billion). GRENKE benefited from the strong new business of prior years as leases have an average of around four years. Net interest income, therefore, increased by 6.7 percent to EUR 407.1 million in the reporting year (20191: EUR 381.5 million).
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting deterioration in the economic environment overall led to higher expenses for the settlement of claims and risk provision. As a result, this expense item increased by 62.1 percent to EUR 216.0 million (20191: EUR 133.3 million).
To support lessees during the COVID-19 pandemic, GRENKE granted the option to defer up to two lease instalments. In September 2020, GRENKE recorded its highest level of outstanding and deferred instalments of EUR 84.2 million. By the end of the year, this deferral volume had already declined significantly, so that as of December 31, 2020, a total of EUR 24.0 million of instalments was still outstanding for the relevant lease agreements.
Audit and consulting fees soared to EUR 24.2 million as of December 31, 2020 (20191: EUR 14.9 million) as a result of the report of a short seller published in September 2020. For the same reason, the Company incurred additional expenses of roughly EUR 6.7 million in the 2021 financial year to date as of the March 31, 2021 reporting date.
Refinancing using matching maturities and a stable equity ratio
External refinancing requirements declined by EUR 0.4 billion in the 2020 financial year. New borrowings amounted to EUR 1.8 billion (20191: EUR 2.3 billion) via the capital market and GRENKE Bank's deposit business.
GRENKE continues to refinance using matching maturities, which means receivables in 2020 were once again largely in line with liabilities in terms of their amounts and maturities. As of the reporting date of December 31, 2020, non-current lease receivables of EUR 3.6 billion (20191: EUR 3.8 billion) had been offset by a total of EUR 3.9 billion in non-current financial liabilities (20191: EUR 3.9 billion). Current lease receivables of EUR 2.1 billion (20191: EUR 2.0 billion) were also at a similar level to current financial liabilities of EUR 1.9 billion (20191: EUR 1.7 billion).
The equity ratio as of December 31, 2020 was 16.3 percent (20191: 16.2 percent) and thus still above the Company’s target of at least 16 percent.
Outlook for the 2021 financial year
2021 is a transitional year for GRENKE. The Board of Directors currently assumes the volume of new leasing business to be between EUR 1.7 billion and EUR 2.0 billion in 2021 after amounting to EUR 2.0 billion in the prior year primarily as a result of the pandemic and burdens from the audits. Due to corona, the 2021 financial year got off to a muted start, with the first quarter of 2021 on a par with the fourth quarter of 2020. The Board of Directors expects the markets to pick up in the further course of this year and anticipates stronger business than in the first half-year.
The measures from the special audits are to be largely implemented in the current financial year. The first franchise companies are also planned to be acquired by the end of 2021. The entire acquisition process is expected to be completed in 2022.
The lower level of new business in the previous quarters, as well as the level expected in the coming months, will also be reflected in the income from operating business for full-year 2021. In addition, the Board of Directors currently expects costs to rise slightly despite lower business volumes. Overall, the Board of Directors expects net profit in 2021 in the range of EUR 50 million to EUR 70 million due to the high profitability of the existing portfolio of contracts and new business.
The Company will submit a dividend proposal upon the publication of the audited annual report.
Measures to advance processes
The Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board have actively addressed the points of criticism from the ongoing special audits, have initiated numerous changes, and are vigorously pursuing their implementation. Isabel Rösler was added to the Board of Directors at the end of the year. The level below the Board of Directors was also strengthened, specifically by hiring externally to newly fill the executive positions in Corporate Compliance and Group Auditing.
Money laundering prevention was significantly intensified through the monitoring of transactions at GRENKE Bank. In addition, the control and audit processes, as well as risk analysis, are being optimised.
Accounting changes affecting the year 2019
As announced in the ad hoc notification dated February 26, 2021, all franchise companies have been consolidated, reducing net profit by a single-digit million euro amount. The consolidation resulted in a reduction of equity of EUR 87.9 million, of which EUR 67.4 million was attributable to the previously reported goodwill and intangible assets. The remaining EUR 20.5 million is attributable in particular to first-time consolidation effects for the not yet acquired companies.
Further accounting changes for 2019 relate to the retrospective increase of impairments for lease receivables (EUR 4.1 million), the goodwill impairment for the business in Poland (EUR 4.2 million) and the correction of the goodwill for the business in Portugal (EUR 2.0 million). In total, equity as of December 31, 2019 fell by EUR 10.3 million.
The reduction in equity has only a marginal effect on the regulatory equity ratio as goodwill requires full equity underlying.
As already announced in the release dated February 26, 2021, the valuation model used to calculate the level of risk provisions in accordance with IFRS 9 in 2020 was enhanced by the integration of macroeconomic parameters.
In addition, the model used to measure receivables in settlement was adjusted and improved. GRENKE AG has currently accounted for this by increasing the level of risk provision by EUR 14 million in the past financial year. Regardless of the final assessment of the matter, there will be no change made to the 2020 year-end balance sheet as the amount and methodology of the risk provision have already been determined. The question remains in which year the change in the risk provision will be recognised. This matter is currently being discussed by the auditor KMPG and the special auditor Mazars. A change in the current assessment would lead to an increase in the net profit of approximately EUR 11 million in 2020, combined with a corresponding reduction in equity as of January 1, 2019.
The figures contained in this press release are preliminary and unaudited. The publication of the Annual Report 2020 is scheduled for May 21, 2021. The Annual Report will be made available on the Company’s website here.
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