French environment services group Veolia says that in 2020 it showed its "strong resilience and rebound capacity" in the face of the Coronavirus crisis. The concern has not yet fully recouped the short-fall in sales and earnings triggered by the effects of the pandemic, which were most pronounced in the second quarter. However, by the fourth quarter of 2020, Veolia achieved stronger sales and earnings than in the prior-year period. The company thus considers itself "ideally positioned" for 2021, said group CEO Antoine Frérot at the release of Veolia's annual earnings figures in Paris on Thursday.
The concern's earnings presentation describes 2020 as "an exceptional and historic year for Veolia". The group generated consolidated annual revenues of €26bn, down 4 per cent compared to 2019. Global waste management activities contributed €9.7bn to the total, 5 per cent less than the €10.2bn in waste revenues reported a year before.
Veolia did not publish earnings figures for its individual business units. It reported earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) adjusted for extraordinary items of €1.3bn, 26 per cent below the previous year's adjusted Ebit figure of €1.7bn. Net profit attributable to owners of the company stood at €89m, about one-seventh of the previous year's figure of €625m.
Veolia expressed its "high confidence" that it would prevail and achieve "successful integration" of its competitor Suez. The legal hurdles to the completion of the take-over are being resolved "one by one", said Mr Frérot, and were not delaying Veolia's global timeline for the planned takeover. He further reported that the anti-trust clearance procedure was also progressing to plan, and the group is in "regular and constructive exchange" with the European authorities. "We expect to get the green light in seven to 13 months from now," he said.