- BESIX Group's order book is strong and amounts to 4.2 billion euros, despite delays in project award decisions in certain parts of the world induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The Group’s revenues amount to 2.7 billion euros for the year 2020, indicating the Group’s resilience and ability to overcome challenges. Revenues were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic but have shown a strong recovery since mid-2020.
- BESIX Group reports an EBITDA of 75.3 million euros, and a net result before tax and excluding goodwill depreciation of 16.3 million. Results are down due to a strong worldwide economic slowdown as well as conservative provisioning on four projects; all four projects are coming to an end and will be delivered in 2021.
- The Group’s balance sheet is healthy with a solvency ratio of 22%, which is above the industry average. Net cash position is also robust.
- The success of the Group's diversification strategy in recent years is confirmed by the above-target results for BESIX Watpac in Australia, for BESIX Middle East’s water and waste concessions (PPP), and for the specialised infrastructure contractors in the Benelux, as well as by the good results of BESIX Real Estate Development.
- The outlook for 2021 is good. The year will see important projects delivered, while others will start up in all BESIX Group markets.
Statements of the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairman of the Board of Directors
Rik Vandenberghe, CEO of BESIX Group: “2020 will be remembered as the year during which the world battled the coronavirus pandemic. We moved quickly to protect first and foremost our people, our projects, and resolutely, the trust our clients have placed in us. Despite the very challenging working conditions of the past 12 months, we have shown resilience during the difficult first semester and delivered a strong recovery in the second. As was to be expected, our net income is inferior to 2019. With a healthy balance sheet, a solid 4.2 billion euros order book, and last but not least our competent and determined team, we look to the future with ambition and optimism.”
Johan Beerlandt, Chairman of the Board of Directors: “The Board of Directors is extremely confident that, with its committed employees, its diversified business activities and its robust financial structure, BESIX is well positioned for the next steps of its journey. With its recognised expertise, BESIX is ideally positioned in all its markets to actively participate in the post-Covid-19 recovery plans and economic upswing. On behalf of all Board members, I express our trust in the executive management and in all staff members to bring BESIX through this challenging period and to deliver on our large scale, complex infrastructure and building projects across the globe.”
Contracting: geographical disparities
BESIX Group’s contracting activities demonstrated a high level of resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic. A major impact of the pandemic was a slowdown in private sector spending as government priorities shifted to public safety and welfare, leading to the cancellation of tenders, postponement of projects and redirection of budgets. Adapting to local health measures, BESIX Group teams have focused on operational excellence to face the crisis that has severely affected the construction sector worldwide.
Strong recovery and delivery of key projects (e.g. Manhattan, Brucargo in Brussels) in the second semester contributed to significantly mitigating the consequences of the first lockdown.
- Outlook 2021: BESIX Group is starting major projects in the Benelux-France area, including the Saint-Denis Pleyel station of the Grand Paris Express, and the Scheldt Tunnel and Right Bank infrastructure for the Oosterweel Link in Antwerp. The Group is also returning to the Italian infrastructure market with a first contract to build tunnels, a viaduct and a bridge.
Despite a market contraction, BESIX Watpac has grown, taking full advantage of the integration of the Group's capabilities to successfully strengthen its local competitiveness. The entity ended the year above its targets and is proud to have delivered several complex healthcare and educational facilities.
- Outlook 2021: BESIX Watpac will deliver major projects in 2021, including the expansion of Adelaide Airport, and will start new projects such as Sydney’s new Barangaroo metro station. The company is also entering the New Zealand market, with the construction of a 25,000-seat stadium, and is ideally positioned to participate actively in the Australian recovery plan.
The fall in oil prices is seriously affecting the Gulf countries' financing capacity and property market, with consequent negative effects on the construction industry. Six Construct is no exception but could rely on its PPP capabilities and quality projects to mitigate the downturn. In 2020, Six Construct was able to grow its portfolio and relationships with key government clients and secure projects such as the Dibba Bulk Handling Terminal in Fujairah. The company also achieved major milestones on the Shindagha Bridge and the Dubai Uptown Tower, and successfully delivered key projects such as the Refuse Derived Fuel facility in Umm Al Quwain.
- Outlook 2021: Six Construct has identified priority sectors in the contracting area, i.e. Infrastructure, Marine, Environment and Special Building, for which tendering opportunities will soon materialise. The company is also ideally placed to accompany the development of new PPPs, both in the environmental and infrastructure sectors.
BESIX Group made steady progress on all fronts, with first-class marine, building and infrastructure projects across Africa, Canada and Eastern Europe, enabling the Business Unit International to record positive results.
- Outlook 2021: BESIX Group will deliver exceptional projects over the year, including the Tutankhamun Gallery at the Grand Egyptian Museum. Several current projects will reach their production peak, including the Mohammed VI Tower in Morocco. New projects, comprising marine facilities, high-rise and infrastructure, should also materialise in Ivory Coast, Norway and Canada.
Regional and Specialised Contractors (Western Europe)
For their part, the Regional and Specialised entities owned by BESIX Group, mainly active in the Benelux, contributed 0.9 billion euros to the Group's revenues (12% below budget, mainly due to Covid-19) and 1.2 billion euros to the order book. These include the Regional Contractors Vanhout, Jacques Delens, Wust, Lux TP, and the Specialised Contractors Socogetra, Franki Foundations, BESIX Infra and Van den Berg.
Financial performance of the regional and specialised entities in Western Europe differs:
Among regional contractors, the Luxembourg entity Lux TP reported a record year. Wust and Vanhout almost achieved their initial objectives, which was not the case for Jacques Delens.
- Outlook 2021: The regional contractors start 2021 with an order book of 638 million euros, an increase of 12% compared to 2020. Despite the strong competition in this sector, confidence is high that there will be a return to normal profitability in 2021.
Among specialised contractors, Van den Berg, Socogetra and BESIX Infra all reported results above their initial budgets, while Franki Foundations performed slightly below budget. The specialised contractors increased their order book remarkably to 582 million euros, an increase of 50% compared to 2020, with the strongest increase at Van den Berg. Notable awards in 2020 include the contract to install 1.2 million smart meters in Flanders and major infrastructure works on RER Lines in Wallonia.
- Outlook 2021: Strong growth is expected in this sector, driven by the markets in which these entities operate (railway, road, water, energy and digital infrastructure). In recent months, diversification in the infrastructure sector in the Benelux was further strengthened by the acquisition of Appermont (active in the rail sector) and the road activities of Strabag in the Netherlands, now BESIX Infra Nederland.
Real Estate Development
BESIX Real Estate Development (BESIX RED) closes 2020 with a positive turnover and a return on equity of 10.4%. Impacted by a significant delay in building permit deliveries, the team at BESIX RED turned the challenging times of 2020 into opportunities in order to accelerate the business’ digitalisation journey with the launch of BESIX RED 2.0: rethinking the programmes of its real estate developments; strengthening its partnership policy with key accounts; and focusing on a new strategic pillar as Investors Advisor to institutional and private investors.
- Outlook 2021: With a pipeline of 27 projects under development in 18 European cities, including significant developments such as ICÔNE in Belval, Luxembourg, and DUUO in Lisbon, Portugal, BESIX RED’s perspectives for 2021 remain positive.
Concessions & Assets
BESIX Middle East's concessions for the operations and maintenance of municipal wastewater and solid waste treatment facilities, a field in which the company is continuing to grow its business, are contributing very positively to the Group's results.
- Outlook 2021: Promising projects are under construction, including one of the world's largest waste-to-energy plants in Dubai, which BESIX Middle East will operate and maintain for 35 years together with Hitachi Zosen Innova. BESIX Middle East is perfectly positioned to participate in the bilateral development and competitive tendering of new PPPs in the region, in the environmental and infrastructure fields.
In the Benelux, the existing concessions are primarily in the area of large infrastructure projects (tunnels, motorways and river locks).
- Outlook 2021: New projects are currently under construction in the Netherlands and Belgium. These involve more infrastructure assets and, for the first time, a large building (Local Police Antwerp), of which BESIX is the sole developer and EPC contractor, and which it will operate and maintain for 25 years together with COFELY.
By contrast, the hotels in which BESIX Group is a co-shareholder in four different European countries naturally had a very difficult year due to travel restrictions and the almost complete shutdown of the tourism sector.
- Outlook 2021: Hotel performance will of course depend on the speed of recovery in leisure and business travel.
BESIX Group closed the year 2020 with 11,813 staff members. The Group continues to invest in talent and recruited more than 600 new staff members in 2020, of which some 150 in Belgium, and continues its efforts in training and development through its BESIX Academy and e-Academy platform.
In terms of Health and Safety, many sites celebrated several million man-hours without lost time injury in 2020. Unfortunately, the year was marred by a fatal accident in the Netherlands. The year 2020 is characterized by a Total Injury and Illness Recordable Frequency Rate (TRIIFR) of 4.28 per million man-hours worked for the Group. BESIX will continue to enhance and roll out its key Health & Safety programs: Global Safety Time Out, BESIX Behavioural based safety BE SAFE and the IOSH training courses.
BESIX Group was already ISO 14001, ISO 9000, OHSAS 18001 and VCA** certified. In 2020, the Group upgraded its Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) systems to the ISO 45001 standard and has consequently been successfully certified.
Early 2021, BESIX Group was officially certified as a Top Employer for the second year in a row. This label acknowledges the work of recent years. Under the heading ‘#WeCare’, BESIX Group is clearly following an ambitious path to offer excellent working conditions, stimulate and develop talents, and constantly strive to optimise the working environment.
Citizenship & Sustainability
In addition to its Global Compact (UN) membership, BESIX Group was among the founding signatory members of the Belgian Alliance for Climate Action in 2020, thereby committing to align their activities with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, i.e. to limit the rise in global temperature to a maximum of 1.5 °C.
BESIX Group strongly supports the introduction of the CO2 performance ladder in tenders on the Belgian market, which is already applied in the Netherlands. BESIX Group is notably an initiative taker along with the Association of Belgian Large Contractors (ADEB-VBA) and a member of the steering committee.
BESIX Group has also been successfully certified to ISO 19650-2:2018, the world’s first international standard for Building Information Management (BIM) and has further developed its initiatives in line with GRI, ISO 26000 and ISO 32000 related to risk management, corporate social responsibility and related reporting.
BESIX Foundation has further developed its social and humanitarian activities in the countries where the Group operates, and further financially supported related organisations impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, BESIX Group was awarded a silver medal by EcoVadis, the world’s largest and most trusted provider of business sustainability ratings.
The diversity and quality of the BESIX Group's order book in 2021 are promising for the years to come. However, the human, social and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic still call for an extremely prudent approach and management.
A number of opportunities remain in key markets and overall activity levels are expected to improve, driven by governments’ willingness to see a robust economic recovery post-Covid-19.
In all its markets and in each of its sectors, BESIX Group is ideally positioned to contribute to the post-Covid-19 economic recovery, combining its recognised expertise in construction, real estate development and concessions with cutting-edge sustainability solutions: these are illustrated by BESIX's state-of-the-art expertise in renovation, smart buildings, energy efficiency of buildings and infrastructures, CO2-neutral constructions, and first-rate technology in water and waste treatment.