Heidelberg puts price tag on restructure

Jo Francis
Thursday, May 21, 2020

Heidelberg will post a massive €343m net loss for its 2019/2020 financial year according to figures just released.

Hundsdörfer: "we will master challenges alongside our customers"
Hundsdörfer: "we will master challenges alongside our customers"

Preliminary results for the year ending 31 March show sales down 6% at €2.35bn (£2.1bn), and a more than 40% drop in EBITDA which fell by €78m to €102m.

Sales in Q4, when the spread of Covid-19 began to increasingly impact global trade, slumped by the equivalent of €46m a month, falling from €797m to €659m.

Restructuring costs of €275m propelled the group to the €343m bottom line net loss, compared with a €21m profit the prior year.

The figures imply that even without the restructuring charge, Heidelberg would have posted a €68m loss for the year. 

The past financial year saw the departure of a number of long-standing and high-profile board members, and culminated in Heidelberg’s shock decision in March to can its VLF litho presses and Primefire B1 inkjet press lines – at vast expense and with the loss of 2,000 jobs – as the group refocused on its most profitable product lines as part of a new “action package” to get the business back on track.

CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer said that the financial year 2019/20 had been "shaped by a significant downturn in the global economic climate, and that affected our customers and Heidelberg itself, too".

"Through our package of measures which we have announced in March, we have paved the way for Heidelberg to achieve stability, improve our liquidity and increase profitability step by step for the long term," he stated.

"The Covid-19 pandemic poses significant challenges for Heidelberg and the entire industry, which we will master alongside our customers and using what Heidelberg has to offer as a technology leader in the printing industry. By joining forces, we will emerge stronger from the crisis." 

Liquidity at the manufacturer has been improved thanks to the deal agreed to return the €380m liquidity reserve in its pension fund in order to repurchase a €150m high-yield bond.

As a result, net debt was reduced to €43m at the year-end (prior year €250m).

CFO Marcus Wassenberg, who is leading the restructuring drive, said the “considerable improvement” in liquidity gave the business “essential room to manoeuvre in these difficult times”.

“Heidelberg is going to implement the announced measures consistently and quickly. We are all aware that the cuts are a significant blow, particularly in the current situation. However, they are absolutely essential to safeguarding the future of Heidelberg,” he stated.

Heidelberg said that negotiations around the redundancies with employee representatives were largely complete, although no-one has left the company yet as the negotiations have to be finalised.

A spokesman said the job reduction will be “mainly in Germany”.

Heidelberg has previously asserted  that the money taken from the pension fund would not affect staff pensions.

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