Half-year Financial Report for 1 January – 30 June 2020 (published 6 August 2020)
Significant short-term risks and uncertainties
In the first half of 2020, the general risk level in the economy increased due to the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic. In Caverion’s operating countries, the lockdown measures of the first wave of the corona pandemic impacted Caverion’s business mainly between mid-March and the end of May, after which they have been gradually dismantled and their impact has reduced. At the end of the second quarter, the corona pandemic was well contained in most Caverion countries, while at the global level the pandemic continued spreading.
A possible second wave of the corona virus could lead to renewed lockdown measures also in Caverion’s operating countries and again increase the negative business impacts.
Caverion’s business is exposed to various risks associated with the corona crisis such as suspension or cancellation of existing contracts by customers, lack of demand for new services, absenteeism of employees and subcontractor staff, closures of work sites and other work premises by customers or authorities, defaults in customer payments and lack or poor availability of financing.
Apart from its immediate effects, the corona pandemic has also led to a global economic downturn, which in many areas can negatively impact the general demand also for Caverion. However, a material part of Caverion’s offering is of such nature that the customers will need these services also during a downturn and recession.
It is still unclear how deep and long the downturn will be and what will be the speed of the economic recovery. The business volume and the amount of new order intake are important determinants to Caverion’s performance in the second half of 2020 and beyond into 2021, but both are still difficult to predict at present.
More generally, Caverion is exposed to different types of strategic, operational, political, market, customer, financial and other risks. Caverion estimates that the trade, health and political risks are increasing globally.
Caverion's typical operational risks relate to its Services and Projects business. These include risks related to tendering (e.g. calculation and pricing), contractual terms and conditions, partnering, subcontracting, procurement and price of materials, availability of qualified personnel and project management. To manage these risks, risk assessment and review processes for both the sales and execution phase are in place, and appropriate risk reservations are being made. The Group Projects Business Unit is dedicated to the overall improvement of project risk management, to steering the project portfolio and to improving project management capabilities. Despite all the actions taken, there is a risk that some project risks will materialise, which could have a negative impact on Caverion’s financial performance and position. Project risk assessment is part of the standard project management processes in the company, and it is possible that risks may be identified in projects which are currently running and in new projects.
Despite clearly defined project controls, it is possible that some risks may materialise, which could lead to project write-downs, provisions, disputes or litigations. Caverion has made a large amount of project write-downs during the last few years. Systematic performance management continues to be part of the core project management processes in all divisions. In 2019 and 2020, Caverion reports only one old major risk project from Germany in adjusted EBITA, the completion of which has been delayed approximately into the end of 2020. It is possible that further risks may emerge in this old project or other projects.
According to Group policy, write-offs or provisions are booked on receivables when it is probable that no payment can be expected. Caverion Group follows a policy in valuing trade receivables and the bookings include estimates and critical judgements. The estimates are based on experience with write-offs realised in previous years, empirical knowledge of debt collection, customer-specific collaterals and analyses as well as the general economic situation of the review period. Caverion carries out risk assessments related to POC and trade receivables in its project portfolio on an ongoing basis. There are certain individual larger receivables where the company continues its actions to negotiate and collect the receivables. There is remaining risk in the identified receivables, and it cannot be ruled out that there is also risk associated with other receivables. The corona crisis has increased the general risk level related to the financial standing of customers and the collection of receivables.
Given the nature of Caverion’s Projects business, Group companies are involved in disputes and legal proceedings in several projects. These disputes and legal proceedings typically concern claims made against Caverion for allegedly defective or delayed delivery. In some cases, the collection of receivables by Caverion may result in disputes and legal proceedings. There is a risk that the client presents counter claims in these proceedings. The outcome of claims, disputes and legal proceedings is difficult to predict. Write-downs and provisions are booked following the applicable accounting rules.
In June 2018, Caverion reached a settlement for its part with the German Federal Office (FCO) in a cartel case that had been investigated by the authority since 2014. The investigation concerned several companies providing technical building services in Germany. Caverion Deutschland GmbH (and its predecessors) was found to have participated in anti-competitive practices between 2005 and 2013. According to the FCO’s final decision issued on 3 July 2018, Caverion Deutschland GmbH was imposed a fine of EUR 40.8 million. In the end of March 2020, the FCO issued its final decision on the cartel case against the other building technology companies involved in the matter. There is a risk that civil claims may be presented against the involved companies, including Caverion Deutschland GmbH. It is not possible to evaluate the magnitude of the risk for Caverion at this time. Caverion will disclose any relevant information on the potential civil law claims as required under the applicable regulations.
As part of Caverion’s co-operation with the authorities in the cartel matter, the company identified activities between 2009 and 2011 that were likely to fulfil the criteria of corruption or other criminal commitment in some of its client projects executed in that time. Caverion brought its findings to the attention of the authorities and supported them in investigating the case. In the end of June 2020, the public prosecutor's office in Munich informed Caverion that no further investigative measures are intended and that no formal fine proceedings against Caverion will be initiated related to those cases. There is a risk that civil claims may be presented against Caverion Deutschland GmbH. It is not possible to evaluate the magnitude of the risk for Caverion at this time. Caverion will disclose any relevant information on the potential civil law claims as required under the applicable regulations.
Caverion has made significant efforts to promote compliance in order to avoid any infringements in the future. As part of the programme all employees must complete an e-learning module and further training is given across the organisation. All employees are required to comply with Caverion’s Code of Conduct, which has a policy of zero tolerance on anti-competitive practices, corruption, bribery or any unlawful action.
Goodwill recognised on Caverion’s balance sheet is not amortised, but it is tested annually for any impairment. The amount by which the carrying amount of goodwill exceeds the recoverable amount is recognised as an impairment loss through profit and loss. If negative changes take place in Caverion’s result and growth development, this may lead to an impairment of goodwill, which may have an unfavourable effect on Caverion’s result of operations and shareholders' equity.
Caverion’s external loans are subject to a financial covenant based on the ratio of the Group’s net debt to EBITDA. Breaching this covenant would give the lending parties the right to declare the loans to be immediately due and payable. It is possible that Caverion may need amendments to its financial covenant in the future. The level of the financial covenant ratio is continuously monitored and evaluated against actual and forecasted EBITDA and net debt figures. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has increased the general risk level related to the availability of financing as well as foreign exchange related risks.
Caverion’s business typically involves granting guarantees to customers or other stakeholders, especially for large projects, e.g. for advance payments received, for performance of contractual obligations, and for defects during the warranty period. Such guarantees are typically granted by financial intermediaries on behalf of Caverion. There is no assurance that the company would have continuous access to sufficient guarantees from financial intermediaries at competitive terms or at all, and the absence of such guarantees could have an adverse effect on Caverion’s business and financial situation. To manage this risk, Caverion’s target is to maintain several guarantee facilities in the different countries where it operates. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has increased the general risk level related to the availability of guarantee facilities.
There are risks related to the functionality, security and availability of the company’s IT systems. Caverion has made significant investments in IT and system development. There is a risk that the expected functionalities and pay-back are not fully materialised.
Financial risks have been described in more detail in the 2019 Financial Statements under Note 5.5 “Financial risk management”.