In the financial year 2017, BayWa AG increased its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) year on year in all core segments and set a new record in its Energy Segment compared to 2016: the Group’s EBIT rose 18.4% year on year to €171.3 million; revenues totalled €16.1 billion. At today's Annual General Meeting, shareholders voted to increase the dividend from €0.85 to €0.90 per share. In his speech, the Chief Executive Officer of BayWa AG, Klaus Josef Lutz, said that the decisions made in 2017 would play a deciding role in the future development of the international trade and service group. “We are transforming into a solutions provider and will be expanding our strategic focus to include the project development business.”
In his speech, Lutz clearly advocated free trade, fair competition, and the principles of the rule of law as the most reliable means of ensuring peace and prosperity. “Instead, developments in some important economies are heading in a different direction. Everywhere, we hear the sabre-rattling of modern-day trade warriors raising the battle cry for a new form of protectionism.” As a group with a global presence, BayWa would have to act as flexibly as possible within this field of tension. Connected with this, he said, was also a process of digital transformation that BayWa was currently carrying out in all areas. The opportunities being presented by digitalisation, said Lutz, sounding a note of caution, were just as large as the need to take action at a social and political level. “There is an urgent requirement for policymakers to get better at keeping pace with rapid technological advances and to use farsightedness and a sense of proportion to adapt regulatory frameworks early on. We need a digital AND social market economy based on ethical principles!”
It was within this context that Lutz criticised the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What began as an inherently sensible approach, he said, had become a gigantic body of law that created clear competitive drawbacks in global trade for the entire economy. Both the bureaucratic effort required to comply with EU-GDPR and the potential penalty of up to 4% of revenue were, said Lutz, “completely out of proportion and bad for business." He emphatically called upon policymakers to enact changes in this regard.
Lutz also provided an outlook for 2018: following delay effects in the first quarter of 2018, in part due to bad weather, Lutz reported that considerable recovery effects had been recorded in the months of April and May. “In 2018, we are once again expecting a better overall result for the Agriculture Segment than in 2017.” He said that factors such as the expansion of the international speciality business, better earnings in Global Produce and well-filled order books in the field of Agricultural Equipment meant that better year-on-year earnings could be expected in 2018. Alongside recovery effects in the domestic operating resource business, Lutz said that the trade in agricultural commodities had been running very well so far this year. In Renewable Energies, he said, BayWa would be significantly increasing the number of projects being sold, especially in the second half of the year. The Chief Executive Officer also expected a slight increase in earnings in the Building Materials Segment in 2018. In its digital business with farmers, Lutz said that BayWa was on the best path towards reaching its goal of becoming the European market leader in digital farming.
“Overall, we believe that the BayWa Group is well placed in 2018 to achieve a result at the same level as 2017,” said the Chief Executive Officer.
Supervisory Board re-elected at shareholders’ meeting
At the Annual General Meeting, shareholders also elected a new Supervisory Board as scheduled. All of the shareholders’ current Supervisory Board members were reappointed: Wolfgang Altmüller, Klaus Buchleitner, Monika Hohlmeier, Dr Johann Lang, Wilhelm Oberhofer, Manfred Nüssel, Joachim Rukwied and Monique Surges. At the constituent Supervisory Board meeting that immediately followed the Annual General Meeting, the current Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Manfred Nüssel, was reappointed.
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