Our gross revenue of DKK 13,613 million was 4.1 per cent lower compared to DKK 14,189 million in 2019.
Organic growth was negative 4.9 per cent. Net growth from acquisitions was 2.8 per cent, while the appreciation of the reporting currency DKK against foreign currencies had 2.0 per cent negative impact on revenue.
Ramboll achieved a positive organic growth in Norway, Finland and Germany, while UK, Americas and Middle East & Asia Pacific all experienced negative organic growth rates due to the challenging market conditions. From a market perspective, Water, Transport and Management Consulting achieved positive organic growth, while Buildings, Energy and Environment &Health had negative organic growth.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) decreased by DKK 65 million to DKK 911 million and EBITDA margin is 6.7, which is 0.2 percentage point lower compared to the previous year.
Operating profit before amortisation of goodwill, brand and customer contracts (EBITA) was DKK 682 million compared to DKK 763 million in 2019, corresponding to an EBITA margin of 5.0 per cent, which was 0.4 percentage point lower than in 2019. Adjusted for the impact of working days (DKK +72 million), Henning Larsen and Web Structures acquisitions (DKK +74 million) and currency (DKK -17 million), the underlying EBITA decreased by DKK 210 million and the underlying deterioration in margin was 1.3 percentage points compared to last year.
The lower underlying EBITA margin compared to 2019 was a result of challenging markets primarily in the UK, Middle East & Asia Pacific and Americas, partly offset by a more resilient market situation in our Nordic countries. From a market perspective, Energy, Environment & Health, Buildings and Management Consulting experienced decreasing profitability, partly offset by Water and Transport, which increased their profitability.
The EBITA margin was positively impacted by the acquisition of Henning Larsen and Web Structures. The newly acquired companies are delivering according to expectations.
Overall, 2020 was characterised by the pandemic and lockdown of societies around the world which has had a negative impact on our financial performance. The negative growth in several markets and decline in profit before amortisation of goodwill, brand and customer contracts were not in line with expectations set in the Annual Report 2019. However, considering the pandemic crisis, Ramboll delivered a satisfactory result.
Net other costs amounted to DKK 169 million (2019: DKK 213 million). In 2020, other costs, totalling DKK 176 million, consisted of restructuring, integration and M&A costs.
The restructuring costs are related to re-organisation of our support functions and the close-down or turnaround of low performance operational activities. These costs are non-recurring costs, such as costs related to lay-offs and rental costs related to closing of offices.
M&A and Integration are costs primarily related to the acquisition of Henning Larsen and Web Structures and the integration of OBG.
Other income came from gain on disposals of fixed assets and receipt of government incentives.
Amortisation from goodwill, brand and customer contracts increased by DKK 27 million to DKK 235 million compared to DKK 208 million in 2019 as a consequence of the acquisition of Henning Larsen and Web Structures. In 2020, there was no goodwill impairment, which was also the case in 2019.
Net financial expense was DKK 32 million, which is roughly unchanged compared to a net financial expense of DKK 33 million in 2019.
As a consequence of the above, profit before tax decreased by 20 per cent to DKK 246 million compared to DKK 308 million in 2019. Tax on profit decreased to DKK 117 million (2019: DKK 136 million). The effective tax rate was 47.5 per cent (2019: 44.1 per cent).
The effective tax rate exceeds the statutory country specific tax rates. The main explanatory components are nondeductible goodwill amortization and non-deductible M&A costs. Net profit decreased to DKK 129 million in 2020 from DKK 172 million in 2019.
Cash flow from operating activities of DKK 1,259 million was significantly higher than the DKK 687 million generated in 2019. The increase was mainly due to an improvement in working capital primarily driven by a reduction in receivables, as a result of a very strong focus on cash collection throughout the organisation.
Investments in tangible assets amounted to DKK 132 million (2019: DKK 219 million). Consequently, free cash flow was DKK 1,127 million (2019: DKK 468 million).
Investments in acquisitions of companies had a negative cash flow of DKK 290 million compared to a positive DKK 93 million in 2019.
Cash conversion ended at 195 per cent compared to 111 per cent in 2019. Cash conversion eliminated for COVID-19 related governmental Tax relief plans of DKK 150 million is 173 per cent.
At year-end, Ramboll had a positive net interest-bearing cash position of DKK 511 million compared to a negative net interest-bearing debt of DKK 197 million at the end of 2019. Ramboll has a solid financial position with a committed funding facility of DKK 2,500 million expiring in November 2025.
Total assets of DKK 8.7 billion were DKK 45 million lower than at year-end 2019.
Equity has decreased by DKK 88 million to DKK 2,453 million since the end of 2019.The movements comprised a net profit of DKK 129 million and negative exchange rate and value adjustments of DKK 217 million.
The equity ratio was 28 per cent compared to 29 per cent at year-end 2019. The lower solvency in 2020 is related to the acquisition and consolidation of Henning Larsen and Web Structures. In addition, the solvency ratio is impacted by the decrease in equity due to negative exchange rate adjustments as a result of the depreciation of USD against DKK.
Markets and expectations
In 2020, private sector revenue represented 67 per cent of total revenue compared to 65 per cent in 2019, with public sector revenue representing 33 per cent (2019: 35 per cent). Environment & Health and Buildings accounted for the larger part of the private revenue with 21 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively, while Transport and Buildings accounted for 12 per cent and 10 per cent of the public revenue.
From a market perspective, Energy had a negative organic growth of 16 per cent as this market also felt the impact of declining oil prices, while Environment & Health and Buildings had a negative growth of 7 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. The highest positive organic growth was achieved by Water, which was 6 per cent, Transport grew 2 per cent while Management Consulting increased by 1 per cent.
In our geographies, UK had a negative organic growth of 12 per cent, while Americas and Middle East & Asia Pacific had negative growth of 10 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. Denmark and Sweden had a smaller decrease in organic growth amounting to 1 per cent and 3 per cent respectively. The highest positive organic growth was achieved by Germany, which was 5 per cent, while Norway and Finland also managed to increase organic growth slightly.
Order book months secured
The order book amounts to DKK 6.8 billion compared to DKK 7.7 billion at year-end 2019, corresponding to a decrease in months secured revenue from 8.0 at year-end 2019 to 7.0 year-end 2020. The order book decrease compared to last year is primarily a result of the alignment of registration principles in Sweden, Environment & Health and Norway and a negative currency rate development in Norway. The negative effect of aligning principles and currency rate development is 0.9 month of work secured. The underlying decrease in order book on a like-for-like basis is 0.1 month of work secured compared to December 2019.
The underlying decrease in order book on a like-for-like basis is 0.1 month of work secured compared to December 2019.
Risk management at Ramboll
Ramboll faces a variety of risks and uncertainties as part of conducting our business activities, and increasingly so during a global pandemic crisis.
The Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) process is established to facilitate that key risks are identified, understood, managed and monitored to support decision-making.
The Group Board of Directors has overall responsibility for monitoring the effectiveness of the ERM process. The Group Executive Board is responsible for the overall risk exposure as a result of Ramboll’s activities.
The ERM process is designed to support 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 local and global risks collected as part of the ERM process, the Group Executive Board identifies the key risks to the Group. Each key risk has a risk owner appointed who is overall responsible for managing the risk and a risk responsible to ensure that mitigating activities are completed. Group Internal Audit 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.
During 2020, the impact of the global pandemic on our business materialized as a key risk to be managed. Ramboll has throughout the year worked intensively to monitor and mitigate the risk, and the continued impact in 2021 has been considered in our planning.
Ramboll is not aware of any events subsequent to 31 December 2020 that are expected to have a material impact on Ramboll’s financial position.
Group Executive Board
Hilde Tonne and Markku Moilanen have resigned to move on to more senior positions with other companies and Søren Holm Johansen will retire after 32 years with Ramboll. They will be leaving Ramboll during Spring 2021, and new members will be announced at our website where more information about the new Group Executive Board will be available. Please refer to page 99 for a full description of the current 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. The Group Board of Directors is presented on page 98.
Looking to the future
In 2020, the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus spread through the global community, resulting in an uncertain outlook for the world economy. The financial impact for Ramboll is difficult to measure at this time. However, it is expected to have a negative impact on our operations also in 2021. We expect to only see moderate growth or even decline in activities in some markets. We expect both our operating profit before goodwill, brand and customer amortisation (EBITA) and the EBITA margin to slightly improve compared to 2020.
We will continue adapting our activities to the general uncertain economic conditions and integrating our acquisitions, Web Structures and Henning Larsen. And at the same time, we will focus on creating opportunities for our clients leveraging our sustainability knowledge and innovation thinking.
The Group Board of Directors proposes a dividend of DKK 50 million. A dividend of DKK 50 million corresponds to 39 per cent of net profit and 4 per cent of free cash flow for the year.
Hightlights of 2020