In 2021, our company recorded highest ever revenue and operating profit (EBITA), while operating margin (EBITA margin) was the highest since 2010.
It was an extraordinary result considering the impact of the pandemic and only possible due to immense dedication and flexibility from our employees and strong client relations.
A strong order book impacted the outlook positively in spite of challenges owing to increased sickness and increasing infection rates among employees from Covid-19.
Our gross revenue of DKK 14,212 million was 4.4% higher compared to DKK 13,613 million in 2020. Organic growth was 4.1%. The impact on the reporting currency DKK against foreign currencies had 0.3% positive impact on revenue.
Net project revenue, which is Ramboll’s own production excluding revenue from subcontractors, was DKK 11,786 million, which is 5.9% higher than the same period in 2020. Organic growth from net project revenue was 5.2% compared to a negative growth of 2.7% in 2020.
Ramboll achieved a strong positive organic growth in almost all geographies, especially in the UK, Germany and Central Europe & Africa, which achieved double digit organic growth. Growth was also strong across the Nordics except for Sweden where we had a slight decline in revenue.
From a Markets perspective Water, Architecture & Landscape, and Management Consulting achieved double digit organic growth, while Environment & Health and Transport also had a strong activity level. In Energy, we had an expected decrease in revenue due to our transitioning from Oil and Gas into the renewables market.
Operating profit before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by DKK 152 million (17%) to DKK 1,063 million and EBITDA margin reached 7.5%, which is 0.8 percentage points higher compared to 2020.
Operating profit before amortisation of goodwill, brand and customer contracts (EBITA) increased by DKK 167 million (24%) to DKK 849 million compared to DKK 682 million in 2020, corresponding to an EBITA margin of 6.0%, which was 1.0 percentage point higher than in 2020.
Adjusted for the impact of working days (DKK 16 million) and currency (DKK 4 million), the underlying EBITA increased by DKK 179 million and the underlying margin was 1.1 percentage points higher as compared with last year.
The higher EBITA margin was the result of improved profitability in primarily the UK, Middle East & Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Central Europe & Africa compared with previous years and negatively impacted by a lower performance in Sweden and Norway. From a Market perspective, Energy and Environment & Health have increased their profitability significantly, offset by a slight decrease in our Buildings and Transport Markets.
2021 was impacted by the pandemic with increasing infection and sickness rates and lockdown of societies around the world. Our diversified approach to clients and markets proved to be resilient and in combination with cost reduction measures made it possible to deliver a stronger financial performance than prior to the pandemic.
Overall, Ramboll delivered a satisfactory result with strong positive growth and increased profitability. The result was above expectations since we had initially expected a harder Covid-19 impact.
Net other costs amounted to DKK 125 million (2020: DKK 169 million). In 2021, other costs, totalling DKK 132 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 integration of Henning Larsen and Web Structures and costs related to new acquisitions signed in the beginning of 2022. Other income came from gain on disposals of fixed assets and receipt of government incentives.
Amortisation from goodwill, brand and customer contracts decreased by DKK 15 million to DKK 220 million compared to DKK 235 million in 2020. In 2021, there was no goodwill impairment, which was also the case in 2020.
Net financial expense was DKK 34 million, which is roughly unchanged compared to a net financial expense of DKK 32 million in 2020.
As a consequence of the above, profit before tax significantly increased by 91% to DKK 470 million compared to DKK 246 million in 2020.
Tax on profit increased to DKK 154 million (2020: DKK 117 million). The effective tax rate was 32.7% (2020: 47.5%). The effective tax rate exceeds the statutory country specific tax rates. The main explanatory components are non-deductible goodwill amortisation and non-deductible M&A costs.
Since the profit before tax, which is the denominator in the calculation of effective tax rate, has increased significantly in 2021 compared to 2020, the impact of the adjustments does not result in a tax rate proportionally as high as in the prior year. Net profit increased to DKK 316 million in 2021 from DKK 129 million in 2020.
Cash flow from operating activities of DKK 333 million was lower than the DKK 1,259 million generated in 2020 due to an increase in working capital. The working capital has increased compared to 2020 as a result of exceptionally strong cash collection at year-end 2020 and increasing business activity.
Investments in tangible assets amounted to DKK 139 million (2020: DKK 133 million). Consequently, free cash flow was DKK 194 million (2020: DKK 1,127 million).
Investments in acquisitions of companies had a negative cash flow of DKK 77 million compared to a negative DKK 290 million in 2020. Cash conversion ended at 48% as compared with 195% in 2020. Cash conversion eliminated for extraordinary items and Covid-19 related governmental Tax relief plans of DKK 90 million is 73% (173% in 2020).
At year-end, Ramboll had a positive net interest-bearing cash position of DKK 902 million compared to a positive net interest-bearing cash position of DKK 511 million at the end of 2020. Ramboll has a solid financial position with a committed funding facility of DKK 2,500 million expiring in November 2025.
Total assets of DKK 9.1 billion were DKK 367 million higher than at year-end 2020. Both receivables and short-term liabilities have increased significantly compared to 2020 due to the increased activity level in the business.
Equity has increased by DKK 469 million to DKK 2,922 million since the end of 2020. The movements comprised a net profit of DKK 316 million and positive exchange rate and value adjustments of DKK 153 million.
The solvency ratio was 32% compared to 28% at year-end 2020. The solvency ratio is impacted by higher profit in the year and increase in equity due to positive exchange rate adjustments.
Markets and expectations
In 2021, private sector revenue represented 77% of total revenue compared to 67% in 2020, while public sector revenue represented 23% (2020: 33%). Environment & Health and Buildings accounted for the largest parts of private sector revenue, contributing with 22% and 21%, respectively, of total revenue. Transport and Buildings public sector revenue accounted for 9% and 5%, respectively, of total revenue.
From a market perspective, Management Consulting had a positive organic growth of 15% followed by 12% in Water and 10% in Architecture & Landscape. Buildings, Transport and Environment & Health had positive organic growth between 3-7%. In Energy, we had an expected decrease in revenue due to our transitioning into the renewables market.
In our geographies, Germany and Central Europe & Africa each had a positive organic growth of 19% followed by 16% in the UK and 5% in the Americas. Denmark, Norway and Finland had positive organic growth of 4%. In Sweden and Middle East & Asia-Pacific, we had a expected decline in revenue.
The Buildings market accounts for 26% of total revenue, followed by Environment & Health at 24% and Transport at 20%.
Denmark and Americas are the largest geographical segments accounting for 24% and 23%, respectively, of total revenue. The share of revenue generated in Finland is 12%, whereas Norway and Sweden each account for 11% of the Group revenue.
The order book increased 7% and amounts to DKK 7.3 billion as compared with DKK 6.8 billion at year-end 2020, corresponding to an increase in months-secured revenue from 7.0 at year-end 2020, to 7.5 at year-end 2021.
Growth across our markets and geographies
Ramboll has grown overall 25% on gross revenue since 2018. Organic growth has on average since 2018 been around 3% including 2020 which was significantly impacted by Covid-19.
From a market perspective we have primarily been growing in Environment & Health, Transport and Water. In Energy we have had an expected decrease in revenue due to our transitioning into the renewables market.
From a Geography perspective the primary areas of growth have been Denmark, Finland, Americas, UK and Germany.
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.
The Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) process is established to facilitate that, key risks are identified, understood, managed and monitored to support decision-making.
The 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 Board of Directors.
During 2021, the impact of the global pandemic on our business remained a key risk to be managed. Ramboll has throughout the year worked intensively to monitor and mitigate the risk, and the continued impact in 2022 has been considered in our planning.
Ramboll is not aware of any events subsequent to 31 December 2021 that are expected to have a material impact on Ramboll’s financial position.
Group Executive Board
During 2021, we welcomed three new members to the Group Executive Board. Furthermore, our new Group Chief People Officer joins in March 2022. See the Group Executive Board here.
Board of Directors
Ramboll’s Group Board of Directors is composed of professionals with a broad mix of experience and employee representatives. See the Board of Directors here.
Looking to the future
In 2020 and 2021, the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus spread through the global community, resulting in an uncertain outlook for the future, which is now also impacted by supply chain disruption and increasing inflation in some of our key markets, and the war in Ukraine and the higher geopolitical and economic uncertainty that follows from that.
Despite the uncertainty, our outlook for 2022 is overall positive and growth is expected to continue in 2022. However, increasing sickness rates is a risk for performance in the first part of the year. Full-year profit is expected to be above 2021 level.
Our new strategy, The Partner for Sustainable Change, gives us a solid foundation for our work in 2022-2025. We look forward to continued growth in our Markets and Geographies, in line with our strategic priorities.
The Board of Directors proposes a dividend of DKK 100 million.
A dividend of DKK 100 million corresponds to 32% of net profit and 52% of free cash flow for the year.