Interim Report for 1 January – 31 March 2020 (published 30 April 2020)
Significant short-term risks and uncertainties
In the first quarter of 2020, the general risk level in the economy has increased due to the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic. Caverion 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, lack or poor availability of financing etc. At this time there has been very limited signs of such risks materialising, but given the uncertainties there is a risk that the situation could deteriorate rapidly.
Furthermore, the corona pandemic is expected to lead to a global economic downturn. This could result in a recession in some or all of the countries where Caverion operates and could have a serious negative impact on Caverion’s business and performance. 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. Caverion estimates that it should be able to mitigate the risk by re-focusing its offering to meet the demand and adjusting the resources accordingly.
More generally, Caverion is exposed to different types of strategic, operational, political, market, customer, financial and other risks. The market environment is generally stable in markets relevant for Caverion, but the increased uncertainties in the economic environment may also affect Caverion going forward. Caverion estimates that the trade, health and political risks are increasing globally, but excluding the impact of the corona crisis their effect on Caverion is estimated to be otherwise limited in the short term.
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 concerns 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. There is a risk that civil claims may be presented against Caverion Deutschland GmbH in relation to this matter. It is not possible to evaluate the magnitude of the risk 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 one of its client projects executed in that time. Caverion has brought its findings to the attention of the authorities and supports them in further investigating the case. It is possible that these infringements will cause considerable damage to Caverion in terms of fines, civil claims as well as legal expenses. However, the magnitude of the potential damage cannot be assessed at the moment. Caverion is monitoring the situation and will disclose any relevant information 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”.