“This clear and ambitious strategy devised three years ago, to build a European content, communications and media group with a global reach, has been successfully implemented.”
2017 was marked by a recovery in the growth of the transportation and logistics businesses in the second half, which accelerated in the fourth quarter. Against this backdrop, turnover for the fiscal year was up 6% at constant scope and exchange rates, to stand at 18.3 billion euros (Vivendi was fully consolidated from April 26, 2017). This was due to 8% growth in the transportation and logistics business, driven by increased volumes and freight rates and by the strong performance of the port terminals, logistics in Africa, as well as by an 11% increase in the oil logistics business, following the increase in oil product prices. It also includes the 4% growth in the communications businesses, attributable to Vivendi (+5%), and a slight rise in the electricity storage business (+2%).
The Group’s operating income stood at 1.1 billion euros, up 79% on 2016 (including 720 million euros in Vivendi operating income, boosted by strong performance from Universal Music Group (UMG) and Canal+ group).
Bolloré Transport & Logistics, which groups together the Group’s transport and logistics businesses in the port, rail, freight forwarding and oïl logistics segments, is one of the five largest logistics operators in Europe and one of the top ten operators worldwide. It is also the largest transport group in Africa, where it operates 17 port concessions.
In 2017, Bolloré Transport & Logistics achieved a turnover of 7.9 billion euros, up 6.7% due to the strong performance of port terminals and logistics in Africa, as well as freight forwarding. Operating income was down slightly on 2016, at 527 million euros, due to the impact of the drop in income from oil logistics, while income from transportation and logistics businesses remained stable, buoyed by the strong performance of terminals and logistics in Africa.
Bolloré Transport & Logistics also continued to expand and invest in 2017, with in particular the signing of a joint venture in Saudi Arabia and the acquisition of Global Solutions A/S in Denmark, with Bolloré Logistics becoming a majority shareholder.
In July 2017, Bolloré Ports signed a concession contract for the new Kribi container terminal in Cameroon for a period of twenty-five years and, in October 2017, opened the new Multipurpose Owendo terminal in Gabon, developed and operated under a partnership between the Bolloré Group and Olam. In addition, the takeover of some of Necotrans’ assets in August 2017 strengthened our positions in certain African countries. Lastly, Bolloré Energy continued its capital expenditure to upgrade the DRPC site, which will enable it to consolidate its distribution operations and build strategic inventories.
The results achieved by the Group’s communications businesses reflect Vivendi’s consolidation as of April 26, 2017. Turnover from these activities now stands at 10 billion euros and operating income at 790 million euros, including 720 million euros from Vivendi (fully consolidated over eight months, including the Havas second half ). Since 2014, Vivendi has been working on building a European content, media and communications group with a global reach. This clear and ambitious strategy, devised three years ago, has been successfully implemented. In terms of content creation, Vivendi has powerful and complementary assets in the music industry (UMG), mobile video games (Gameloft) and movies and box sets (Canal+ group). In distribution, where Vivendi has repositioned Dailymotion as its new digital showcase, it has also forged closer links with several télécoms operators and platforms to enable it to expand its distribution network as widely as possible. In 2017, a third building block was added to this structure: communications with Havas, which has unique creative expertise in monetizing free content and in short formats, increasingly used on mobile devices. On July 3, 2017, Vivendi acquired Bolloré Group’s 59.2% stake in Havas (consolidated from that date in Vivendi’s financial statements), then bought out the non-controlling interests and now wholly owns the sixth largest communications group in the world. 2017 was a year of growth for Vivendi. Turnover was up 4.9% in organic terms and adjusted operating income was up 23% as a result of income growth at UMG (+21%) and the recovery at Canal+ group (+31%).
In 2017, the Group’s Electricity storage and solutions division recorded a slight upturn in its turnover (+2% in organic terms) compared with 2016, driven by strong growth in its specialist terminal businesses and developments in car-sharing and electric buses. Operating losses were down slightly on 2016. Blue Solutions focused on the most promising applications (buses and electricity storage) and scaled back its capital expenditure on Bluecar® (excluding car-sharing). The 2017 fiscal year was marked by the opening of a new car-sharing service in Singapore and by the ramp-up of services in London and Turin. The launch of the car-sharing service in Los Angeles is planned for the first half of 2018. Lastly, R&D activities continued, primarily in batteries with the integration of Capacitor Sciences, a company acquired in 2016.
These successes reflect the Group’s proven expertise in mobility applications and both the quality and viability of the Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP®) technology. However, faced with more intense competition than expected and with further significant capital expenditure needed to develop the benefits of LMP® technology, Blue Solutions needs more time to develop its competitive advantages and address the parallel development of lithium-ion competitors. In this context, while remaining confident in the outlook for its technology but wishing to maintain a reasonable growth rate and continue investing for the long term, in July 2017, the Group offered Blue Solutions shareholders looking to exit, an initial opportunity to sell their shares at 17 euros per share. Shareholders who decided to support Blue Solutions in its future capital expenditure plans have an exit guarantee under the same terms and conditions following the publication of the 2019 financial statements. At the conclusion of the simplified tender offer at 17 euros, the Group acquired 7.6% of the share capital and, together with Bolloré Participations, held 95.6% of Blue Solutions’ share capital at the end of February 2018.
In 2018, the transportation and logistics businesses are likely to continue to benefit from the recovery in international trade which commenced in the second half of 2017, against a backdrop of more stable freight rates. In the communications businesses, UMG should be able to benefit from the growth of the music market, particularly in connection with the development of subscription and music streaming activities, and Canal+ group should continue to recover with an EBITA target, before restructuring costs, of approximately 450 million euros. The Group will continue to invest in its three core businesses and, in particular, in communications where it continued to increase its Vivendi shareholding since the beginning of the year by exercising a portion of its purchase options and by purchasing shares in the market. The Group now owns around 24% of Vivendi’s share capital(1). These transactions reflect the confidence the Bolloré Group has in Vivendi’s potential for development and its intention to remain as reference shareholder of the company in the long term. —
(1) Not including 1% in the form of purchase options.