On the occasion of the Annual Report Press Conference in Hanover, Rettig described the situation as follows: “Even if we have not been able to match the superb results of previous years this time, overall we can still be satisfied with the progress and development of the Group. The German industrial business with our core competences of Testing, Inspection and Certification was extremely positive last year. And the figures from the first few months of this year indicate another good year in 2014.”
Rettig attributed the slight reduction in turnover above all to the restructuring of the Training area. The subdued nature of the world economy as a whole, the weakness of the economies of Southern Europe, the volatile nature of the natural resources business and also unfavourable currency exchange markets also played a part. Rettig: “Our worldwide markets developed in very different ways in 2013. However, we have still managed to keep the proportion of our foreign business stable, at 25 per cent. We will go on actively pursuing the strategic course we have set, with the focus on growth, internationalisation and innovation. In our sector, business framework conditions change particularly fast. That is why we will continue to build even more strongly on new products and innovations in the years to come.”
Despite a reduction in turnover and earnings, the financial base of the Group has been further strengthened
The Chief Financial Officer of TÜV NORD GROUP, Elmar Legge, explained that the reduction in turnover was primarily attributable to consolidation measures in the Training Business Unit. This alone had led to a reduction in turnover of € 20 million. Legge justified the reduction in earnings with the heavy losses in the Natural Resources Business Unit, in strong contract to previous performance. Due to the weakness of global markets for natural resources, geosurvey and exploration projects have been postponed throughout the world. Legge emphasised that without exchange rate and portfolio effects, earnings were well within expectations. Legge: “The Group successfully continued its solid financial policy in 2013, and we have strengthened the financial basis of the Group. Own capital has risen to € 120.5 million, which is an increase to 16.2 per cent, following 15.7 per cent in the previous year.”
Providing for pension obligations remains a particular challenge, and counter-indemnity for pension reserves was increased again by € 11.7 million to € 718.1 million.
Legge emphasised that it had also again been possible to raise investment into the operative side of the business, to € 36.1 million (2012: € 35.7 million).
New data centre “on line”
A total of € 8 million has been invested in building the new data centre. The building is one of the most modern of its kind in Germany and meets very high security standards (Trusted IT Site Level 3). Availability reached an extremely high 99.9 per cent. Currently, all the German IT systems are being brought together at the Hanover site, and migration of international TÜV NORD companies will begin in the second half of 2014. In future, this centralisation will save more than 300 tonnes of CO2 each year. The centre is already working at almost full utilisation due to use by TÜV NORD and renting of IT capacity to an insurance company. TÜV NORD GROUP intends to develop its activities in this area on an ongoing basis in the coming years.
Continuing to underpin our own innovative strength through cooperation
TÜV NORD GROUP wishes to secure its know-how advantage to the benefit of its clients through international partnerships with universities and other organisations, and also to open up new areas of activity for its business. An example of this is the joint use of laboratories for certification of cranes and offshore installations that has been agreed with Shanghai Maritime University. 40,000 merchant ships currently carry 90 per cent of goods traffic worldwide, and the importance of large ports within logistics chains will continue to grow. This cooperation is therefore extremely significant over the long term.
The year 2013 was characterised by revelations of wide-ranging penetration and espionage in the worlds of digital media and communications technology. The TÜV NORD subsidiary TÜViT has been a specialist in the prevention of cyber attacks on commercial organisations for many years now. Cooperation with the company mediaTest digital, based in Hanover, has opened the door to a new dimension here. In the “Application Security Center” (ASC) joint portal, companies can find all the solutions they need for the security of their mobile end devices and for the entire area of Enterprise Mobility. This offering, which is unique within Europe at the present time, is primarily aimed at companies and App developers.
Moderate M&A activity
In 2013, TÜV NORD GROUP again invested moderately in merger and acquisition activities. Any acquisitions must fit into the strategy of the Group and be a useful addition to the service portfolio.
With an investment of 25.1 per cent into Dutch wind energy specialist Outsmart, TÜV NORD is now offering a complete service package for wind farms, from development through operation up to maintenance and servicing. This covers onshore turbines, but also particularly offshore installations.
With the acquisition of the Frankfurt-based company INSTA Ingenieurtechnik, TÜV NORD has extended its offering for the chemical industry to include planning and instrumentation for electrical, measuring, control and regulation technology. This means that clients can receive all services for the planning of process engineering plant and equipment from one source. In addition, INSTA has programmed process control systems and developed the necessary software.
Guido Rettig: “Organic growth remains at the core, augmented by suitable acquisitions. In particular, the IT and Aerospace Business Units are involved in intensive discussions in Germany and abroad”.
TÜV NORD GROUP
TÜV NORD GROUP