Atel Group: 2000 results

The Atel Group substantially increased its European energy trading in 2000 and also expanded its energy service business, so that it is now a strong second structural pillar. Consolidated turnover rose from CHF 1.9 billion to CHF 3.3 billion in 2000, of which energy services accounted for 45 per cent, and group profit grew by 26 per cent to CHF 135 million. The Board of Directors is to submit proposals to the Annual General Meeting on 26 April 2001 to increase the dividend from CHF 18 to CHF 20 and to increase authorised share capital by CHF 30 million nominal.

Strong growth in all areas

Energy trading segment The Group won many new customers in the pan-European energy trading sector and also successfully positioned itself in new market areas of electricity exchange trading and portfolio management. Energy sales were up 15 per cent to a record 33 billion kWh, with segment turnover rising 10 per cent to CHF 1.8 billion. Margins continued to decline as a result of ongoing market opening and changing contract structures. Thanks to higher sales, additional cost reductions in infrastructure and a reduced need for value adjustments, the financial results were significantly better than those of the prior year which were affected by special items. The segment result was CHF 152 million (1999: CHF 106 million).

Energy service segment Expansion in Germany and Switzerland in particular, through the acquisition of the German GAH Group and a number of Swiss companies, has made the energy service division a strong second structural pillar. In 2000, supply-based sectors were hit by stagnating order volumes and intense competitive pressures. Cutbacks in the employment markets in the dynamic communication and building technology sectors limited growth opportunities. Turnover of about CHF 1.5 billion generated a segment result of CHF 27 million (1999: CHF 4 million).

Group results Consolidated turnover for the Atel Group totalled CHF 3.3 billion in 2000 compared with CHF 1.9 billion in 1999. More than CHF 1.2 billion of the total increase in turnover of CHF 1.4 billion results from acquisitions. Consolidated cash flow fell from CHF 550 million to CHF 465 million due to shifts in the energy trading procurement portfolio. At the same time, there was a greatly reduced need for value adjustments, unlike the prior year which was affected by special items. Consequently, operating profit rose by 40 per cent to CHF 171 million (1999: CHF 121 million), in spite of significant goodwill write-offs. Group earnings grew by 26 per cent to CHF 135 million (1999: CHF 107 million).

The Board of Directors is to submit a proposal to the Annual General Meeting on 26 April 2001 to increase the dividend from CHF 18 to CHF 20 per registered share of CHF 100 nominal value. To create more flexibility for the Atel Groups further expansion, it will also submit a proposal to shareholders to increase authorised share capital by CHF 30.36 million nominal, equivalent to 10 per cent of the current share capital of CHF 303.6 million. The authorisation period is limited to 2 years.

The Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity (Atel) group of companies based in Olten, Switzerland, operates throughout Europe in the energy trading and energy service segments. The Group employs around 7,600 staff, of which 600 work in electricity production, transmission and trading and 7,000 in energy services. Energy trading accounted for 55 per cent of consolidated turnover and energy services 45 per cent.

Detailed reporting on the 2000 financial year will be available at the press conference due to be held on 3 April 2001 in Olten.

Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity Corporate Communications