Ramboll continues our strong growth with good performances in the Americas and in the Nordics. The integration of the newly acquired US engineering consultancy OBG is on track.
Gross revenue of DKK 14,189 million was 25.0 per cent higher compared to DKK 11,351 million in 2018.
Organic growth was 4.2 per cent. The net growth from acquisitions was 20.3 per cent, while the reporting currency DKK against foreign currencies had 0.4 per cent positive impact on revenue.
Ramboll has achieved strong organic growth primarily in the Nordics and from a market perspective in Energy, Buildings, Transport and Water.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by DKK 216 million to DKK 976 million and EBITDA margin increased from 6.7 per cent in 2018 to 6.9 per cent in 2019.
Operating profit before amortisation of goodwill and customer contracts (EBITA) was DKK 763 million compared to DKK 597 million in 2018, corresponding to an EBITA margin of 5.4 per cent, which was 0.1 per cent higher than in 2018. Adjusted for the impact of working days (DKK -14 million), OBG acquisition (DKK +101 million) and currency (DKK +3 million), the underlying EBITA increased by DKK 76 million and the underlying improvement in margin was 0.4 percentage points compared to last year.
The higher EBITA margin compared to 2018 was a result of stronger performance in the Nordics, the UK, MEAP and Germany, and from a market perspective, Buildings, Energy and Management Consulting increased profitability.
The EBITA margin was impacted by the inclusion of OBG as expected, which has been characterised by a high degree of low-margin revenue through subcontractors on specific large projects. OBG is delivering in accordance with expectations and has realised a strong 18 per cent revenue growth and improved profitability during 2019.
Overall, growth was above expectations while profit before amortisation of goodwill and customer contracts was in line with expectations set in the Annual Report 2018.
Net other costs amounted to DKK 213 million (2018: Net other costs DKK 82 million). In 2019, other costs, totalling DKK 227 million, consisted of restructuring and integration and acquisition costs.
The restructuring costs are related to re-organisation of our support functions and close-down or turnaround of low-performance operational activities. In 2019, we have systematically performed structural changes to our business where we have been divesting, closing and re-scoping departments, offices and removing organisational layers across our business units. These costs are non-recurring costs such as costs related to lay-offs and rental costs related to the closing of offices.
M&A and Integration are costs primarily related to the acquisition of Henning Larsen Architects and Web Structures, and the integration of OBG.
Other income came from a gain on disposals of fixed assets, sale of activities and received government incentives.
Amortisation from goodwill and customer contracts increased by DKK 11 million to DKK 208 million compared to DKK 197 million in 2018. In 2019, there were no goodwill impairments compared to 2018 where goodwill impairments of DKK 27 million were made in Germany.
The net financial expense was DKK 33 million compared to net financial income of DKK 43 million in 2018. In 2018, net financial items were affected by an unrealised gain on intercompany loan, amounting to DKK 53 million.
As a consequence of the above, profit before tax decreased by 15 per cent to DKK 308 million compared to DKK 361 million in 2018. Tax on profit increased to DKK 136 million (2018: DKK 123 million). The effective tax rate was 44.1 per cent (2018: 34.1 per cent). The effective tax rate in 2018 was positively affected by the reversal of provision from 2017 to cover the US transaction tax, as the provision turned out to exceed the annual transaction tax realised in 2018. Net profit decreased to DKK 172 million in 2019 from DKK 238 million in 2018.
Cash flow from operating activities of DKK 687 million was higher than the DKK 496 million generated in 2018. The increase is a result of the growth of our operating profit (EBITA) and lower Income taxes paid. Net working capital was reduced compared to 2018 despite the growing underlying business.
Investments in tangible assets amounted to DKK 219 million (2018: DKK 237 million). Consequently, free cash flow was DKK 468 million (2018: DKK 259 million).
Investments in acquisitions of companies were a positive cash flow of DKK 93 million compared to a negative DKK 996 million in 2018. In 2019 the inclusion of the, OBG acquisition balance had a positive cash flow effect on investments. The positive effect from OBG, offset by acquisitions performed in 2019, amounted to DKK 93 million.
Cash conversion ended at 111.1 per cent compared to 116.2 per cent in 2018.
At year-end, Ramboll had a net interest-bearing debt position of DKK 197 million compared to a net interest-bearing position of DKK 701 million at the end of 2018. Ramboll has a solid financial position with a committed funding facility of DKK 2,500 million expiring November 2024.
Total assets of DKK 8.7 billion were DKK 1.2 billion higher than at year-end 2018.
Equity increased by DKK 191 million to DKK 2,541 million since the end of 2018. The movements comprised a net profit of DKK 172 million, paid dividend of DKK 50 million and exchange rate and value adjustments of DKK 69 million. The equity ratio was 29 per cent compared to 31 per cent at year-end 2018. The lower solvency in 2019 is related to the acquisition and consolidation of OBG.
Markets and expectations
In 2019, private sector revenue represented 65 per cent of total revenue equal to 2018 (2018: 65 per cent) with public sector revenue representing 35 per cent (2018: 35 per cent). Environment & Health and Buildings accounts for the larger part of the private revenue with 21 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, while Transport and Buildings accounted for 14 per cent and 11 per cent of the public revenue.
The most significant organic growth in revenue in the markets in 2019 was achieved by Water, which was 12 per cent, and Transport, which grew by 7 per cent. Sweden, Finland and Central Europe and Africa accounted for the highest revenue growth in the geographies.
The Buildings market accounts for 27 per cent of the total revenue, followed by Environmental & Health and Transport at 25 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
For the first time, the Americas is the largest geographical segment accounting for 26 per cent (2018: 13 per cent) of total revenue. The share of revenue generated in Denmark is 21 per cent, Finland is 12 per cent, whereas Norway and Sweden each account for 11 per cent of Group revenue.
The order book amounts to DKK 7.7 billion compared to DKK 7.3 billion at year-end 2018 corresponding to a decrease in months secured revenue from 8.8 at year-end 2018 to 8.0 year-end 2019 due to inclusion of OBG and a decrease in primarily Americas and Europe outside of the Nordics. The starting point from 2018 was high and overall order book level end of 2019 is considered strong despite a decrease in months secured revenue.
The market for engineers and consultancy is characterised by intense competition. We find that our traditional strongholds such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland are experiencing marginally slower growth rates, while some of our smaller geographies are growing rapidly. It is positive that we have accelerated growth in geographies where we previously have had a weaker presence.
Risk management at Ramboll
Ramboll faces a variety of risks and uncertainties as part of conducting our business activities. Our risk management system facilitates that risks are identified, understood, managed and monitored to support decision-making on an informed basis.
The Group Board of Directors has overall responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of the risk management system. The Group Executive Board is responsible for the overall risk exposure as a result of Ramboll’s activities.
In 2019, Ramboll has focused on further improving the Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) process ensuring identification, assessment and management of risks at different levels of the organisation. Identified risks are assessed on both financial and non-financial impact measures and the likelihood of the risks materialising. Based on this assessment, the Group Executive Board identifies the key risks to the Group and assigns risk owners responsible for mitigating activities. A central Group function is responsible for driving the ERM process, monitoring the mitigation of key risks and reporting to the Group Executive Board and the Group Board of Directors.
In 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has spread through the global community impacting the outlook for the global markets. As this occurred in 2020, it is assessed as a non-adjusting subsequent event which should not have material impact on the assessment of the financial statements for 2019.
Furthermore, the acquisitions of Henning Larsen Architects and Web Structures have occurred with effect from January 2020.
Ramboll is not aware of any other events subsequent to 31 December 2019 that are expected to have a material impact on Ramboll’s financial position.
Group Executive Board
Steve Washburn has resigned from the Group Executive Board as of 1 January 2020. There have been no other changes to the Group Executive Board.
Board of Directors
Ramboll’s Group Board of Directors is composed of professionals with a broad mix of experience and employee representatives.
Employee-elected board member Jon Bøgelund left Ramboll and was replaced by Mette Thiel effective from 1 November 2019.
Looking to the future
In 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has spread through the global community resulting in an uncertain outlook for the world economy 2020. The financial impact of the COVID-19 virus for Ramboll cannot be reliably measured at this time, however, it is expected to have a negative impact on our operations. We expect to only see moderate growth or even decline in activities in several markets and a decline in EBITA margin compared to 2019. Our key focus is to continue adapting our activity to the general economic conditions and to continue consolidating and integrating our business. We will also focus on integrating our acquisitions, OBG and Web structures, and prepare the integration of Henning Larsen Architects through the launch of our new market business unit covering architecture and planning services.
Considering the uncertainty from COVID-19 the Group Board of Directors proposes a dividend of DKK 0 million.
Highlights of 2019