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Overview

 

The policy of value creation that motivates the Prysmian Group has always been based on effective risk management. Since 2012, by adopting the provisions on risk management introduced by the "Italian Stock Exchange Corporate Governance Code for Listed Companies" (Corporate Governance Code), Prysmian has taken the opportunity to strengthen its governance model and implement an advanced system of Risk Management that promotes proactive management of risks using a structured and systematic tool to support the main business decision-making processes. In fact, this Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) model, developed in line with internationally recognised models and best practices, allows the Board of Directors and management to evaluate in an informed manner those risk scenarios that might compromise the achievement of strategic objectives, and to adopt additional tools able to anticipate, mitigate or manage significant exposures.     

 

The ERM model in practice

 

The Group Chief Risk Officer (CRO), designated to govern the ERM process, is responsible for ensuring, together with management, that the main risks facing Prysmian and its subsidiaries are promptly identified, evaluated and monitored over time. A special Internal Risk Management Committee (consisting of the Group's Senior Management) also ensures, through the CRO, that the ERM process is developed in a dynamic way by taking account of changes in the business, of needs and of events that have an impact on the Group over time. The CRO reports periodically (at least twice a year) on such developments to the top management. Please refer to the "Corporate Governance" section of this report for a discussion of the governance structure adopted and the responsibilities designated to the bodies involved.

 

The ERM model adopted (and formalised within the Group ERM Policy which incorporates the guidelines for the Internal Control and Risk Management System approved by the Board of Directors back in 2014) follows a top-down approach, whereby it is steered by Senior Management and by medium to long-term business objectives and strategies. It extends to all the types of risk/opportunity for the Group, represented in the Risk Model - shown in the following diagram - that uses five categories to classify the risks of an internal or external nature characterising the Prysmian business model:

  • Strategic Risks: risks arising from external or internal factors such as changes in the market environment, from bad and/or improperly implemented corporate decisions and from failure to react to changes in the competitive environment, which could therefore threaten the Group's competitive position and achievement of its strategic objectives;
  • Financial Risks: risks associated with the amount of financial resources available, with the ability to manage currency and interest rate volatility efficiently;
  • Operational Risks: risks arising from the occurrence of events or situations that, by limiting the effectiveness and efficiency of key processes, affect the Group's ability to create value;
  • Legal and Compliance Risks: risks related to violations of national, international and sector-specific legal and regulatory requirements, to unprofessional conduct in conflict with company ethical policies, exposing the Group to possible penalties and undermining its reputation on the market;
  • Planning and Reporting Risks: risks related to the adverse effects of incomplete, incorrect and/or untimely information with possible impacts on the Group's strategic, operational and financial decisions.

In compliance with the amendments to the Corporate Governance Code published in July 2015, the Group Risk Model has been revised to include, as part of strategic risks, the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility with the purpose of identifying more precisely the Group's economic, environmental and social sustainability risks which, over time, could jeopardise value creation for its shareholders and stakeholders.  

The Board of Directors has also given the Compensation and Nominations Committee responsibility, with effect from 1 January 2016, for supervising sustainability questions associated with the Group's business, as described in the Corporate Governance Report.

Members of management involved in the ERM process are required to use a clearly defined common method to measure and assess specific risk events in terms of Impact, Probability of occurrence and adequacy of the existing Level of Risk Management, meaning: 

  • economic-financial impact on expected EBITDA or cash flow, net of any insurance cover and countermeasures in place and/or qualitative type of impact on reputation and/or efficiency and/or business continuity, measured using a scale that goes from negligible (1) to critical (4);   
  • probability that a particular event may occur within the specific planning period, measured using a scale that goes from remote (1) to high (4);       
  • level of control, meaning the maturity and efficiency of existing risk management systems and processes, measured using a scale that goes from adequate (green) to inadequate (red).

The overall assessment must also take into account the future outlook for risk, or the possibility that in the period considered the exposure is increasing, constant or decreasing.

The results of measuring exposure to the risks analysed are then represented on a 4x4 heat map diagram, which, by combining the variables in question, provides an immediate overview of the risk events considered most significant.

This comprehensive view of the Group's risks allows the Board of Directors and Management to reflect upon the level of the Group's risk appetite, and so identify the risk management strategies to adopt, meaning the assessment of which risks and with what priority it is thought necessary to improve and optimise mitigation actions or simply to monitor the exposure over time. The adoption of a particular risk management strategy, however, depends on the nature of the risk event identified, so in the case of:

  • external risks outside the Group's control, it will be possible to implement tools that support the assessment of scenarios should the risk materialise, by defining the possible action plans to mitigate impacts (eg. continuous monitoring activities, stress testing of the business plan, insurance cover, disaster recovery plans, and so on);
  • risks partially addressable by the Group, it will be possible to intervene through systems of risk transfer, monitoring of specific indicators of risk, hedging activities, and so on; 
  • internal risks addressable by the Group, it will be possible, as risks inherent in the business, to take targeted actions to prevent risk and minimise impacts by implementing an adequate system of internal controls and related monitoring and auditing.

ERM is a continuous process that, as stated in the ERM Policy, forms part of the Group's three-year strategic and business planning process, by identifying potential events that could affect sustainability, and is updated annually with the involvement of key members of  management.  

In 2016 this process involved the main business/function managers of the Group, allowing the most significant risk factors to be identified, assessed and managed; the main information emerging from this process is reported in the following paragraphs, including the questions of the Group's economic, environmental and social sustainability aimed at ensuring value creation over time for shareholders and stakeholders. More details about how the Group manages Sustainability can be found in the annual Sustainability Report, available on the Company's corporate website at www.prysmiangroup.com in the section Corporate/Sustainability/Downloads/Sustainability Report.                                                                                                    

The classification used in the above Risk Model will now be used to discuss the significant risk factors for each category and the strategies adopted to mitigate such risks. Financial risks are discussed in detail in the Explanatory Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in Section D (Financial Risk Management).     

As stated in the Explanatory Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements (Section B.1 Basis of preparation), the Directors have assessed that there are no financial, operating or other kind of indicators that might provide evidence of the Group's inability to meet its obligations in the foreseeable future and particularly in the next 12 months. In particular, based on its financial performance and cash generation in recent years, as well as its available financial resources at 31 December 2016, the Directors believe that, barring any unforeseeable extraordinary events, there are no significant uncertainties, such as to cast significant doubts upon the business's ability to continue as a going concern.

 

Strategic

 

Risk associated with the competitive environment

 

Many of the products offered by the Prysmian Group, primarily in the Trade & Installers and Power Distribution businesses, are made in conformity with specific industrial standards and so are interchangeable with those offered by major competitors. Price is therefore a key factor in customer choice of supplier. The entry into mature markets (eg. Europe) of non-traditional competitors, meaning small to medium manufacturing companies with low production costs and the need to saturate production capacity, together with the possible occurrence of a contraction in market demand, translate into strong competitive pressure on prices with possible consequences for the Group's expected margins.      

In addition, high value-added segments - like High Voltage underground cables, Optical Cables and Submarine cables - are seeing an escalation in competition both from operators already on the market and from new entrants with leaner more flexible organisational models, in both cases with potentially negative impacts on sales volumes and sales prices. With particular reference to the Submarine cables business, the high barriers to entry, linked to difficult-to-replicate ownership of technology, know-how and track record, are driving large market players to compete not so much on the product as on the related services.

The strategy of rationalising production facilities currently in progress, the consequent optimisation of cost structure, the policy of geographical diversification and, last but not least, the ongoing pursuit of innovative technological solutions, all help the Group to address the potential effects arising from the competitive environment.

 

Factors such as changes in GDP and interest rates, the ease of getting credit, the cost of raw materials, and the overall level of energy consumption, significantly affect the energy demand of countries which, in the face of persistent economic difficulties, then reduce investments that would otherwise develop the market.    Government incentives for alternative energy sources and for developing telecom networks also face reduction for the same reason. The Prysmian Group's transmission business (high voltage submarine cables) and Power Distribution and Telecom businesses, all highly concentrated in the European market, are being affected by fluctuating contractions of demand in this market caused by the region's prolonged economic downturn.

To counter this risk, the Group is pursuing, on the one hand, a policy of geographical diversification in non-European countries (eg. Vietnam, Philippines, etc.)and, on the other, a strategy to reduce costs by rationalising its production structure globally in order to mitigate possible negative effects on the Group's performance in terms of lower sales and shrinking margins.  

In addition, the Group constantly monitors developments in the global geopolitical environment which, as a result - for example - of the introduction of specific industrial policies by individual countries, could require it to revise existing business strategies and/or adopt mechanisms to safeguard the Group's competitive position.

In the SURF business, the Prysmian Group has a significant business relationship with Petrobras, a Brazilian oil company, for the supply of umbilical cables, developed and manufactured at the factory in Vila Velha, Brazil. In light of the country's continuing economic difficulties causing the local market for umbilical cables to contract and of growing competitive pressures on product technological innovation, the sustainability, even partial, of the business in Brazil could be impacted. 

While committed to maintaining and strengthening its business relationship with this customer over time, the Group has started to gradually reorganise the business unit to make its processes more efficient and to concentrate increasingly on developing new products whose technical and economic solutions can lower production costs.

The Prysmian Group operates and has production facilities and/or companies in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The Group's operations in these countries are exposed to different risks linked to local regulatory and legal systems, the imposition of tariffs or taxes, exchange rate volatility, and political and economic instability affecting the ability of business and financial partners to meet their obligations.     

Significant changes in the macroeconomic, political, tax or legislative environment of such countries could have an adverse impact on the Group's business, results of operations and financial condition; consequently, as already mentioned in an earlier paragraph, the Group constantly monitors developments in the global geopolitical environment which could require it to revise existing business strategies and/or adopt mechanisms to safeguard its competitive position.

Planning and reporting risks
 

Planning and reporting risks are related to the adverse effects that irrelevant, untimely or incorrect information might have on the Group's strategic, operational and financial decisions. At present, in view of the reliability and effectiveness of internal procedures for reporting and planning, these risks are not considered to be relevant for the Group.