2017 marked a further acceleration in Prysmian's acquisition-led growth, confirming our determination to act as an aggregator on a global scale, raising the quality and competitiveness of the entire cable industry.
The merger agreement with General Cable represents a major step in this direction and follows in the wake of a series of other important transactions.
Group sales amounted to Euro 7,901 million, posting an organic variation of -0.1% assuming the same group perimeter and excluding metal price and exchange rate effects, with a fourth-quarter improvement (+2.9%) thanks to double-digit growth in Telecom's optical business and recovery by E&I and Industrial & Network Components. The most significant contributions to the growth in Adjusted EBITDA came from improved margins in the strategic businesses of Telecom, up to 17.0% (from 14.0% in 2016), and Energy Projects, up to 17.8% (from 15.9% in 2016).
Prysmian Group has perfected a market approach over the years that puts the customer at the centre of its strategic, organisational and business choices. Its commitment to analysing customer expectations and their evolution over time allows the Group to develop organisational and operating models that translate into fast, efficient and targeted responses to the markets concerned.
At the heart of this approach is Customer Centricity, which expresses itself in the ability to anticipate and satisfy customer needs by being constantly present, from product design through to delivery, and providing a level of service that is monitored against specific, agreed parameters.
The Energy Projects operating segment recorded sales of €1,490 million, with the submarine cables business boosting its profitability thanks to a favourable mix of projects, services and installation activities, which benefited from the deployment of new installation assets such as our third cable-laying vessel ‘Ulisse’ and cable burial equipment. The High Voltage business enjoyed a positive performance in the Far East and France.
Energy Products’ sales grew organically by 0.9 % to €4,880 million in 2017, despite a contraction in volumes in some European countries and North America, absorbed by positive performance in Northern Europe and growth in Asia. Adjusted EBITDA for 2017 came in at €244 million, from €280 million in 2016.
The Telecom operating segment scored a 5.3% sales rise to €1,258 million, mainly thanks to volume recovery for optical fibre, reflecting the continuous positive trend in demand, due major investment projects. Volumes in Europe were also positive as the Group has renewed important contracts with leading operators for the construction of backhaul links and FTTH connections.
O&G sales decreased to €273 million, as the performance of the segment continued to be negatively affected by the drop in oil prices, which in turn affected investment decisions by the industry's major players. In particular, the SURF business experienced a contraction in the umbilicals market in Brazil, linked to a downturn in activity by Petrobras, partly offset by North American volumes. Nevertheless, the Core Cables business witnessed a recovery in onshore project demand.